ESCONDIDO — Hundreds of construction workers are swarming a site on North Elm Street in Escondido this week building three homes in five days for Habitat for Humanity.

“We started at 7 o’clock Monday morning and we will finish by 3 o’clock on Friday afternoon,” San Diego Habitat Executive Director Lori Holt Pfeiler said Tuesday during a visit to the property. “It’s really impressive.”

Sempra Energy employees are building a single-family house that will be sold to a wounded veteran as part of Habitat’s Building for the Brave program. Nearby, Shea Homes and Emmerson Construction are working on a duplex.

It’s all part of Habitat’s Home Builder’s Blitz, a national event that has built 1,000 affordable homes in 150 communities all over the country since 2006.

The homes are able to be constructed so quickly due simply to massive, knowledgeable, manpower, Holt Pfeiler said. Roughly 200 construction workers, some working through the nights, are on site each day. Being built from the ground up, the duplex was already fully framed and work was being done on the roof by midday Tuesday.

The Escondido project is San Diego Habitat for Humanity’s sixth Home Builder’s Blitz. Eighteen homes have been built locally using the Blitz model.

The Elm Street project will eventually consist of five duplexes and the single-family home. The other four duplexes will be built by volunteers, at a much slower pace, later this year, Holt Pfeiler said.

“When a family has their own home that’s affordable they can take care of their children and their children can thrive at school,” Holt Pfeiler said. “The kids can join the soccer team or take some music lessons because now you’re not spending so much of your income on housing or you’re not so overcrowded that you don’t have space to do anything.”

The homes will be sold to families who qualify according to Habitat’s family selection criteria — low-income families with a demonstrated need for improved housing, the ability to repay a 0 percent mortgage, and willingness to put in 500 hours of “sweat equity” volunteering for Habitat projects.

Holt Pfeiler said families won’t be moving into the new homes until late this year.

“We’ll find those families, they’ll be able to work on these houses, and they’ll all be able to move in together.”

She said the families will help build the other duplexes in the neighborhood. “Those families will know each other, they will have worked together, and they’ll be part of a community.”

Article by J. Harry Jones, Featured in the San Diego Union-Tribune

Photo by Don Boomer/U-T