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Dream of home ownership comes true for Arizona family

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Raymond Jordan and his family have traveled from here to Mexico to build a good life.

Now, thanks to nonprofit homebuilder Habitat for Humanity and members of the Access Church in Peoria, he's helping to build his family a two-story house near 90th and Peoria avenues.

Habitat for Humanity builds and/or repairs affordable homes for families based on their need, income, and willingness to become a partner.

Jordan and his wife have two children, 8 and 5. Their road to this house began south of the border.

"My wife and I moved to Mexico to own a store and take on that," said Jordan. "That's when it started to get very violent down there a few years ago. We decided that we didn't care how much it was going to take, we were going to get out of there.

"So we racked up a huge debt on a credit card to get out of there and get back here and be safe."

Jordan works as a personal banker but with his credit ruined, it looked like owning a home would be impossible.

"It's hard to get into a traditional mortgage without that high credit score," said Jordan. "Habitat supplied everything I needed to get back on the right track."

With his family putting in 400 hours of "sweat equity," Jordan met Habitat's requirements for a HUD-financed zero percent loan, with a payment of $400-$500 dollars a month.

With supervision from Habitat's construction workers, Jordan is helping to build the house. "I have no idea what I'm doing with construction, I'm a computer nerd," he said.

But there was progress on his first day. "We put the first wall up today. It was a great feeling. I couldn't stop smiling."

Church member Tiffany Dinbokowitz said the volunteers will leave something behind at the house. "Each one of us was actually able to sign the walls of the home and either write a prayer or a blessing or even just sign our names. Just something that says we were here."

Jordan is telling his kids that the house is part of this year's Christmas gifts. He'll get the keys in April, and knows just what he wants to do.

He laughed as he said "I've told my wife for years that I've wanted a pingpong table, so we'll need to find a place to put that."

"They (the six homes being built in Peoria) are all going to a family that Habitat has selected that has already put in a significant number of their volunteer hours," said Carin Imig of the City of Peoria, which is a corporate partner on the project.

"All of the loans that the people receive to buy the homes is made available by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, through HUD." Habitat acts as the banker or lender.

One of the six new homes will be finished around Jan. 5, with the owner getting the keys around Feb. 1.

Cassandra Jarles with Habitat is amazed at the hundreds of people who are helping with the projects. "The busiest time of their year is probably around Christmas time, and they're still willing to sacrifice their time and come out here, so we really appreciate that."

Imig said it's also an inspiration to the city. "We find it meaningful every day of the year," she said.

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I live in north Phoenix with my wife Rene' and my son Devin.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: My Dad took me to see Jimmy Dean at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in the 1960's. It was before the Coliseum was built. The only thing I remember is Jimmy Dean singing his big hit "Big Bad John."

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Shiloh Community Church in Phoenix. Devin is a high school student at Scottsdale Christian Academy. He plays on the baseball, football, and basketball teams and sings in the choir. Obviously, we keep busy trying to go to all his events! We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and long road trips. We like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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