Habitat dedicates 2 new houses on Neckel

Photo by Bob Oliver
Habitat for Humanity Detroit Chief of Community Development Sandra Cobb (right) speaks to Ahmed Al-Karki (center) and his wife, Rusul Al-Janabi, inside the couple’s new house, 7607 Neckel, during a dedication ceremony. Two of the 12 houses being built in Dearborn by Habitat were dedicated Feb. 6.

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN – Already delayed by one snow emergency, the dedication of the first two houses build by Habitat for Humanity here went off without a hitch Thursday despite the city being hit with another storm the previous day.

The first house, 7511 Neckel, is the new residence of Markiesh Drain and her 1-year-old son, Jayden Williams, who were previously living in an apartment in Westland.

“We are so thankful to be part of this program and we really appreciate this,” Drain said. “This house will give us the opportunity to have a family in the near future and be safe and secure with our income to live comfortably.”

Drain said that the two-bedroom apartment she stayed at in Westland was good, but after the birth of Williams she wanted to move into a larger place for him to grow up in. She also was worried because management at the apartment complex changed hands three times in the last four years.

Habitat Detroit Family Services Coordinator Tracie Odom said Drain worked hard to become a homeowner.

“There’s a misconception that we just give these houses away, but that isn’t the case at all,” Odom said. “Markiesh worked very, very hard while also working a full-time job, going to school and being a single mother. She’s a super woman.”

Odom said future homeowners put in 250 “sweat equity” hours, not just on the house that they will eventually move into but on other houses as well. Couples must log a combined 350 hours.

Helping with the dedication was Mayor John O’Reilly Jr., who congratulated Drain and welcomed her to the neighborhood.

“This is just so great for everyone in the community,” O’Reilly said. “New houses and homeowners can transform neighborhoods and really increase their health and vitality.”

The second house, 7607 Neckel, is the new residence of Ahmed Al-Karki, his wife, Rusul Al-Janabi, and their eight-month-old daughter, Lamar Al-Karki.

“My family and I are so excited and grateful and we are very happy that everyone has come to celebrate with us,” Al-Karki said. “We feel so blessed to be a part of this great program with such a great organization.”

He said the family is excited to move into the neighborhood.

“We feel so blessed to move into such a safe area next to a good school and shops,” Al-Karki said.

Habitat Detroit Executive Director Vincent Tilford said Al-Karki was a hard worker and would be a great addition to the community.

“At Habitat, we bring people together, and we’re proud to bring this family into a great neighborhood,” Tilford said.

O’Reilly commented that he knew it was a good neighborhood because he grew up in it.

“I grew up just up the block here on Neckel and it really is a place where neighbors know each other and people work together to help each other,” O’Reilly said.

The two houses that were dedicated are among 12 being built in the city, six on Neckel and six on Hartwell. Construction for the entire project is expected to be done this summer.

Habitat Detroit Construction Manager Dan Garan said the construction for each house takes usually between 90 and 110 days. Crews begin work on a house roughly three weeks after starting the previous one.

The houses are ranch style and are being built to meet the city ordinances in place for new houses. They have four bedrooms, one-and-a-half bathrooms and two-car garages. They are also being built to be energy efficient.

The houses are being built on 60-foot lots that the city either was able to obtain from their owners or already owned.

The project also is assisted in funding by federal programs the city is working through. The first is the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, which is helping fund the houses on Neckel, and the second is the HOME Investment Partnership Program, which is helping fund the houses on Hartwell.

(Bob Oliver can be reached at boliver@bewickpublications.com.)