UNC Build-a-Block challenge: 10 houses, 10 months

Posted January 16, 2011

— Two houses, three days.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill students are determined that by the end of this weekend, those two houses will be built from the ground up.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend marked the start of "UNC Build-a-Block," an effort to build 10 Habitat for Humanity houses for university and UNC Hospitals employees.

It's considered the largest build that any college Habitat for Humanity group has attempted, project spokeswoman Maria Mayorga said in a release.

More than 200 UNC students, faculty and staff, including Chancellor Holden Thorpe, kicked off the construction phase Friday. They aim to finish the first two houses in the Phoenix Place neighborhood, on Rogers Road, by Sunday evening.

The impetus for the project came when Habitat for Humanity of Orange County alerted UNC that 14 of the 18 applicants for homes in Phoenix Place worked for the university or hospital.

Thorpe's wife, Patti, undertook a fundraising effort to raise $350,000 from university, student and alumni groups, and students started organizing themselves for construction.

Organizers plan to complete the 10 homes by the end of this school year.


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  • readme Jan 18, 2011

    The barracks are good enough for our soldiers, so I think they should be good enough for people who need to mooch off someone else for a place to live. I don't think anyone should freeze to death outside, but if you're expecting someone else to provide your housing, it ought to be open-bay style living with a common bathroom, making it as cheap as possible to do.

  • Mugu Jan 18, 2011

    Too many of these deadbeats are in their situation because of fiscal irresponsibility.

    Just like a lot of those destitute people on extreme home makeover, they get lazy and spend their money on stupid stuff... then their houses become derilict.

    Once you have a paid off home and give it to them, they get a second mortgage and eventually foreclosed upon.

    Let these people live in their own squalor.

  • 2alegal Jan 18, 2011

    What's sad is once these folks get these homes with little or no mortgage, they go and hock the same and build on and not able to pay for them and foreclosure of a Habitat house? Umm?? Happening in Jo Co.

  • granny1957 Jan 17, 2011

    I think that this is great! Just because someone works at UNC does not mean that they make a lot of money. The only ones that are in the news are the top paying jobs. I am very happy for these ten families that will have a new home.

  • mpheels Jan 17, 2011

    fredk - habitat homes are not free. Recipients must contribute a certain number of hours to the construction, and also have to make payments towards the land and some building expenses. The homes are far more affordable that regular market-rate houses, but they generally do got go to those who cannot work. They go to working people who don't make enough to buy a house without a little help. Many UNC employees barely make enough to get by. We're not talking about professors and administrators here. The applicants for habitat homes are housekeepers, cooks in the dining halls, maintenance workers, groundskeepers, secretaries... Many (most?) UNC employees cannot afford to live in Chapel Hill.

  • Hater like Darth Vader Jan 17, 2011

    They should change the slogan to "10 deadbeats, 10 free rides".

  • I know some stuff Jan 17, 2011

    I thought 'habitat' homes were for 'less fortunate' people, typically those unemployed, by reason of hardship such as illness or injury? Employees of UNC don't seem to fit that presumption of NEED.

  • ncsulilwolf Jan 17, 2011

    "The impetus for the project came when Habitat for Humanity of Orange County alerted UNC that 14 of the 18 applicants for homes in Phoenix Place worked for the university or hospital."

    Does it not seem strange to anyone else that the first question asked was not "why can our staff not afford to purchase a home through traditional routes"?