Sweat Equity in Southwest Denver

Blogger: Raphael Chavez, Architectural Project Coordinator | Guam
March 29, 2016

In the midst of the Colorado winter season, three daring HDR souls—Helen Jones, Garret Biltoft, and myself—volunteered our time to construct a single-family home in Denver. Metro Denver Habitat is one of the oldest Habitat chapters in the country and has great turnouts at every build event. We had the pleasure of teaming up with Denver Public Schools and Xcel Energy for the day, strapping on our tool belts filled with borrowed hammers and a handful of nails.

The construction site, located at Harvard and Decatur in southwest Denver, was in the beginning phases of construction and was a fairly large site. Habitat had about four single-family homes under construction at this corner lot, developing somewhat of a “Habitat Community.”

When a family is approved to receive a Habitat home, they are required to put “sweat equity” into their homes. This means, before the home is completed, they are required to meet a certain amount of hours in constructing their home.

During our time on the construction site, we had the pleasure of meeting Ahmed, the husband of a family of three, who was planning on moving into the single family home. Ahmed and his wife Maha currently live in an old, small one bedroom apartment with major leaks and broken appliances. Their apartment is in a high-crime neighborhood where police are called constantly. Ahmed and Maha had left a war-torn country to seek a better life, yet their current living conditions are reminiscent of the conditions they sought to escape. In an effort to provide a better quality of life for their son, they reached out to Habitat for a peaceful and stable home. It was great to hear that Habitat for Humanity had rejuvenated their hope for their family and how excited they were to own a home.

With sincere thanks from Ahmed and our Habitat leader, our build time quickly came to a close. By the end of the day we had put in our own “sweat equity” and hammered every nail into place, lifting and mounting the four exterior walls of the home. Seeing the walls go up was the cherry-on-top for the day. There are few opportunities you get to see the faces of the families you’re helping, but that cold winter day was one of them.  

Looking forward to the home’s ribbon cutting ceremony this April!

Images courtesy of Raphael Chavez