When Berenice Martinez was 8, she used to stand on Cave Creek Road and wait for the school bus.
Now her children will have the same experience.
Martinez, her husband and her two children will be moving into a Habitat for Humanity home this summer as part of the organization’s effort to build 50 homes by 2010 in the Desert Foothills Community.
The organization raised a wall on its 12th home Saturday. Eight homes are occupied, and four are under construction and expected to be completed by early summer.
The homes are constructed in a two-story, condominium style with two to three bedrooms. The 12 homes are near Basin and Cave Creek roads in Cave Creek.
Martinez, 24, said the home would be the beginning of a great life for her family. They currently live with a relative, and her family of four shares one room.
“It can get very stressful,” she said.
Little things, like being able to let her children have a friend spend the night, can make a big difference, Martinez said.
“It will make things easier,” she added.
Families who are chosen to participate in the program must contribute 400 hours of “sweat equity” to receive the low-cost, interest-free mortgages. They also complete education courses on budgeting, saving and home ownership.
Habitat for Humanity Desert Foothills also announced Saturday the donation of up to $500,000 in matching funds from a couple in the community. The organization is trying to raise $1 million by June 30 and already has raised more than $300,000 toward its goal.
“If we don’t raise the money, we don’t build houses,” said Jack Gardner, who handles fundraising for the organization.
Habitat for Humanity Desert Foothills has received some opposition from members of the community for building the homes, said executive director Mary Kurth, but with real estate prices continuing to rise, the need for affordable homes will be even greater.
“We get calls daily from people saying, ‘How can I qualify for a Habitat home?’ ” she said.
Marianna Sauceda, 46, moved with her 7-year-old son to a Habitat home in 2002. She had been living in a onebedroom apartment that seemed to grow smaller as her son grew larger.
She was very grateful to be one of the first chosen for the program, she said.
“They haven’t just given me a home, they’ve given me four new families,” she added.