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Habitat for Humanity ready to start new project

ELLENTON — Dirt will begin to fly after the first of the year as a site is prepared for 18 new homes to be built by Habitat for Humanity of Manatee County.

Ron Turner, executive director of the nonprofit organization, said a recent contribution of $10,000 from SunTrust Bank will help build Habitat’s new neighborhood called Hope Landing on 38th Avenue East, across from Blackburn Elementary School.

“We’re looking forward to starting the new neighborhood and we’re happy to have SunTrust’s support,” he said.

SunTrust’s regional chairwoman and chief executive officer, Margaret Callihan, said volunteers from the company also will be helping with the project.

“We believe that Habitat for Humanity is truly one of those organizations that changes lives and helps make dreams become reality for so many deserving people,” Callihan said.

SunTrust’s Volunteers in Partnership and Service program encourages employees to volunteer their time to help charities in their communities. Employees from Charlotte County banks volunteered this past year to help build four homes.

This is the first time SunTrust has provided support for Manatee Habitat, said Turner, who is happy for the help.

Infrastructure construction for storm water lines and streets will begin in January, and the first homeowner should be moving in by the middle of the year.

The work will be completed with a portion of the $500,000 in Community Development Block Grants Habitat received through Manatee County.

The 18 semi-attached villas will be built using “green” building procedures, Turner said, similar to one of the last homes completed in Palmetto.

An insulating concrete-form wall system is used, where plastic foam forms about 5 feet long and 1 foot tall are stacked on top of each other like Legos to create the home’s outside walls.

Concrete is poured between the two plastic foam walls, which not only provides strength, but offers extra insulation against the Florida heat, reducing air-conditioning costs.

“This will help the families save on their energy bills and improve their living environment,” Turner said.

The added strength of the concrete also makes the structures more hurricane resistant.

Manatee County Habitat for Humanity volunteers and supporters have built 100 homes, which are sold to families without profit using interest-free oans.

Homeowners also contribute “sweat equity” by helping build their new homes.