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Habitat Intervention Saves Homeless Family

When Gustavo Alvarez lost his home in Los Angeles, there was a bitter irony that added insult to his travail. The fire that consumed his home started in a homeless encampment behind his home. Initially, insurance payments made it possible for Alvarez to move his family into an apartment while the home could be rebuilt. But the temporary housing benefits only lasted six months, which left Alvarez with nowhere near enough time or money to complete his home renovation.

Alvarez told The Los Angeles Times, “We are saving up to fix the house. But the $1,400 of rent for our temporary home has been an added expense. My wife is working at a clothing store to make up for some of it … You work day and night for years to build something and it is gone in a matter of hours.”

When Jessica Lawson read Alvarez’ newspaper story, she was moved to act. Lawson is a disaster recovery program manager for Habitat for Humanity in the greater LA area, so she reached out. Lawson said, “I knew we had the power to help. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could actually help the family?”

And help they did. Because of Lawson’s intervention, Habitat was able to offer Alvarez a loan with highly favorable terms that would help him finish his home. After reviewing damage estimates from a general contractor, the work was done quickly, enabling Alvarez to move back in a few months’ time.

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