Habitat for Humanity opens houses

The hard work of CMU?s Habitat for Humanity chapter came to fruition last Sunday when three brand new houses were dedicated in the neighborhood of East Liberty.
The group has been building houses in the Pittsburgh area since it began six years ago, and Sunday?s dedication was the result of years of fundraising and an active partnership with other Pittsburgh chapters of Habitat for Humanity.
Over the last six years, CMU?s Habitat group has raised $85,000 through a combination of fundraisers ranging from bake sales to raffles of Pittsburgh Playhouse tickets.
All of the money went into the construction of one East Liberty house, which has been in the making for about two years. Last year, Habitat for Humanity invited all students to help them build house frames on the Cut. Those frames are now the walls of a family home.
?There was a lot of singing from a local church choir. It was really a joyous event,? said club president and junior physics major Alex Rutgers on the highly emotional nature of Sunday?s dedication. The families moving into the houses welcomed the volunteers into their brand new homes in what Habitat member Liana Zimmerman described as a ?back-door event.?
?Strangers come to the front door, but we all came through the back. The event was really for friends,? said Zimmerman.
The two other houses in the dedication were paid for and built by partner Habitat chapters from University of Pittsburgh and the City of Pittsburgh. CMU?s group, which is relatively new, has been working with these groups recently in an effort to forge close bonds with the many Habitat chapters in and around the CMU community.
Though Habitat is most famous for home-building, the group?s statement of purpose on says that is just part of the club?s greater goal of eliminating poverty housing both in the Pittsburgh area and around the world. To achieve this goal, the organization aims to educate the community on poverty and fundraise for projects all around the world. Carnegie Mellon Habitat recently donated $5000 to build a house in Cambodia, which went above and beyond the annual ?tithes? to international projects that are required of all Habitat chapters.
With their East Liberty project project complete, Habitat is now fleshing out plans for their next house. Fundraising has already begun on a home to be built in the Pittsburgh borough of Etna, an area damaged by flooding last year. The club hopes to raise the necessary funds for the Etna house in two years.
Though its fundraising is geared primarily toward its building projects, the group plans to donate 30 percent of all collections to rebuild houses in Louisiana and Mississippi that were damaged by Hurricane Katrina.
According to Zimmerman, the hard labor of building homes is worth it. As an architecture major, she says the chance to construct a real home ?gives an inkling of the future.?
Habitat will soon be out on the Cut again, building more house frames. All members of the community are invited to join them in their work.