Friday morning, July 22, the San Gorgonio Pass chapter of Habitat for Humanity gathered at a vacant lot on E. Wilson Street to break ground on its 15th home to be built in Banning.

The nonprofit organization focuses on providing affordable housing for families to build economic stability and self-reliance.

“We’re helping build strength, stability and humanity within our community,” said Habitat for Humanity San Gorgonio Pass Area Board President Amy Minjares.

Habitat for Humanity organizes the low-cost construction of affordable homes with volunteer service and donated materials and professional services then sells the homes to selected families at cost and with no interest.

Families are selected based on their level of need for better housing, their willingness to partner with Habitat for Humanity volunteers and their ability to pay an affordable mortgage, according to Minjares. Participating families must contribute hundreds of volunteer hours and attend 12 financial education classes.

“When families partner with Habitat they start down a new path, one with far fewer barriers to a better, healthier, more financially stable life,” Minjares said.

For the Wilson home, a pre-manufactured home was purchased for the property in December, and the work that remains includes permitting, clearing and preparing the lot, landscaping and the construction of a garage.

According to Minjares, the family selection process is already underway and the selection is expected to be finalized within 30 days. The home is expected to be completed within 18 months.

Several local community and governmental partners attended the groundbreaking ceremony to show their support for Habitat for Humanity and the project. They included Banning Mayor Kyle Pingree and Mayor Pro Tem Colleen Wallace as well as representatives from State Sen. Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh and County Supervisor Jeff Hewitt.

“I don’t think I could say enough about Habitat. If all our neighbors were as successful at helping our communities as Habitat for Humanity, what a wonderful place this would be,” said Art Welch, representative for State Sen. Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh. “Habitat for Humanity is a model for all nonprofit organizations seeking to help their fellow man.”

While discussing her 11-year affiliation with Habitat for Humanity, Minjares said, “It’s incredible. The house dedication ceremony is one of the best experiences anyone can have. It’s exciting to see that come to fruition, knowing the work and dedication that went into it and the impact it will have on the family.”

Minjares began volunteering with Habitat after he father was one of founding members of the San Gorgonio Pass Area affiliation, which was founded in 1999.

Habitat for Humanity San Gorgonio Pass Area serves the communities of Banning, Beaumont, Cabazon, Cherry Valley and Calimesa. For more information, visit habitatsgpa.org

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