Noteworthy

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

Posted January 16, 2011 2:42 p.m. EST

— 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.