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Skyrocketing Land Costs Mean Fewer Families Will Receive Habitat Homes

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DURHAM — The sounds of hammers and saws filled the air in Durham Saturday as Habitat for Humanity volunteers raised the walls on nine houses.

By the time their building blitz is done, 21 Habitat families will call Jubilee Lane home.

"I think it's exciting because so many homeowners are still waiting to get in a home, and it's just great," says Hilda Streater, who moved into one of the Habitat homes in July. "It's an opportunity for so many people who are waiting for a house and now they're able to receive one."

Three-thousand people in Durham County want to move into Habitat houses, but only 25 will be built.

A similar situation exists in Wake County, where thousands of families are in need. There, Habitat for Humanity can only build about two dozen houses this year.

Habitat organizers blame the high cost of buying land in the Triangle.

"Like any other builder and developer in the Triangle, we're under the same pressures they are," say Bob Calhoun, executive director of Habitat for Humanity. "And as the costs go up, they affect us as well."

Habitat can easily spend $50,000 on one lot. That's as much as it costs to build one of the houses.

In Garner Saturday, Blanch Lyons and her four daughters got the keys to their new Habitat house. They were one of the few families lucky enough to receive a new home.

The proud homeowner says moving into a house of her own is a dream come true for her family.

"We're really excited," says Lyons. "We're grateful to God that it's all coming together now. It's overwhelming. Words can't express how far, how appreciative we are."

Thousands of other families are waiting for the same opportunity, but they may never get it.


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