Blog-ManilaAve-400x400In the heart of Oakland, Habitat is renovating two craftsman-style bungalows that have sat vacant on Manila Avenue in the city’s Mosswood neighborhood. One in a brick-red hue, trimmed with white. Its neighbor next door, blue shingles and wide windows look out over a porch railing. The homes sit on this residential stretch of Manila, steps from a park, a community garden, and some of the city’s prime shopping districts and key services. All they are missing is some real elbow grease and families to make memories inside their walls.

Since these two properties were donated to Habitat East Bay/Silicon Valley at the end of 2020, we have been working on making much-needed renovations and selecting families to purchase these homes through affordable mortgages. Now, we are nearing move-in day for the first of the Manila Avenue homes.
Thanks to the efforts of our staff and AmeriCorps, our dedicated volunteers, and the sweat equity of future homeowners, Kiet and Binh, construction recently wrapped. It was no small feat, with our first days on site starting back in March with some demolition, and on through work on electrical, plumbing, framing, roofing, insulation, trim, drywall, landscaping, irrigation, painting, and more.
All of this work has paid off, with a beautifully renovated home whose electrical, plumbing, and mechanical systems are up to date and up to code, with fresh doors, windows, cabinets, fixtures, and energy-efficient appliances. And what’s more, it will continue to pay off by offering a hand up to Kiet, Binh, and their 12-year-old son, Phong.
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Blog-ManilaAve-550x375-1“When we think about having our own house,” Kiet says, “we know that it’s an environment that’s better for him… All things are for our son first.” Their current living situation, sharing cramped quarters in a San Leandro house with seven other people, makes Kiet and Binh worry for their child’s well-being.

The moment they walked into their future home, the two parents could immediately envision Phong’s happiness in the sunny back bedroom. Kiet imagined his son sitting at his own desk in his own room, doing his homework or pursuing his artistic passion beneath the wide windows overlooking the backyard – a far cry from where he currently hunches on the floor of their crowded room.

Kiet loves to brag about his wife’s cooking, but they both lament that in their current home, they have to cook in hurried shifts to accommodate sharing a kitchen with so many others. Too often, Binh prepares a meal for Phong so that he can eat at a decent hour, then waits to prepare a late meal for herself and Kiet. At the heart of the home on Manila Avenue is a bright, open kitchen where Binh can’t wait to prepare family meals.

Most of all, though, is the understanding that the home comes with new opportunities. “My kid, my grandchildren someday…” Kiet muses, “Their future is more important than my future. That’s all we dream about.”

Now, as Kiet and Binh prepare to become homeowners, we have turned our attention to the home next door. An even more monumental undertaking, this home will not only require a full renovation and update, but we are revising the floor plan to make this a four-bedroom home a future Habitat family can call their own!

We’ll need plenty of helping hands on this renovation, so stay tuned for volunteer opportunities in the coming months!

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