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Minority Families Plan Holidays in New Homes Built with ‘Sweat Equity’

December 6, 1991

BOSTON (AP) _ After more than 200 hours of hard labor, another 90 hours of special schooling and some financial help, eight minority families have new homes for the holidays, built with their own ″sweat equity.″

With $850,000 in private donations and low-interest loans from the government, Project Hope converted a city-owned vacant lot into eight two- story townhouses for families who couldn’t otherwise have dreamed of owning property.

″Some people wish and wait and wonder,″ Tracee Carter said at a dedication ceremony Thursday. ″When something is a reality, you realize it’s well worth the wait.″

About 150 people, including former Gov. Michael Dukakis’ wife, Kitty, attended the ceremony.

″Two years ago that was a vacant lot,″ WBZ-TV anchorwoman Liz Walker said during the dedication. ″I come back now and say ‘I have seen a miracle.’

″You have restored my feelings about human nature and the ascension of human spirit,″ said Walker, who was close to tears.

The families used ″sweat equity″ for the down payments - they spent a minimum of 200 hours of painting, varnishing, hammering and nailing.

They also attended 90 hours of classroom training, learning about building materials, mortgages and running a cooperative.

The eight families were chosen from 40 applicants. They include three African-American families, two Hispanic families, two Haitian families and a family from the Dominican Republic.

All but the Carters are headed by a single parent and earn between $11,000 and $21,000 a year. They will be expected to pay between $200 and $430 a month for 15 years, said Sister Susanne Beaton, project director.

Jonathan Carter said he and his wife had always dreamed of owning their own home, but couldn’t have afforded it - raising four boys on meager salaries - without Project Hope.

Eight-year-old Aaron Carter squirmed during much of Thursday’s ceremony, oblivious to the dignitaries and important speeches - until it was his turn.

″Why My House is So Important,″ he said, reading his poem to the crowd ″It will be clean. I will have new friends. I’ll have my own room.

″I will always love my new house.″

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