Over the past five weeks, local volunteers worked with Habitat for Humanity to construct a house that will provide much-needed shelter for a Mississippi family whose home was swept away by Hurricane Katrina.
The partially assembled Katrina House was shipped from Santa Barbara to Bay St. Louis, Miss. on Monday, where a group of volunteers will work to finish its construction. Once it is completed, the home will be presented to displaced Mississippi resident Gaynelle Acker, who lives with her daughter and three grandchildren. Joyce McCullough, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Southern Santa Barbara County, said approximately 150 volunteers worked together build the 960-square-foot residence.
“Together, we have raised funds, found materials donors, and put in many, many hours painting and building this home,” McCullough said. “It is a joint effort of many groups and agencies coming together for a great cause.”
McCullough said Acker’s family was selected to receive the house because they do not have insurance and cannot afford to rebuild their home, which was destroyed along with many others during Hurricane Katrina.
The project was spearheaded by Ian Cronshaw of Allen Associates, a Santa Barbara general contracting company. Cronshaw said he came up with the idea for the Katrina House after talking to a Bay St. Louis-based contractor about the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina.
Cronshaw said local building suppliers donated $50,000 in labor and materials to the project, and the community contributed an additional $40,000 in monetary donations. He said local residents and volunteers from Habitat for Humanity joined together on the construction of the residence.
“Santa Barbarans of all ages have helped to paint walls, sand decking, and build the pieces of this house,” Cronshaw said.
At a press conference held Saturday, Nov. 5 at the Katrina House construction site, Coldwell Banker presented a $6,000 check to Habitat for Humanity, which McCullough said is the largest donation to date. She said the outpouring of support for the project from the local community has been outstanding.
“This project typifies what a community like Santa Barbara can do in a very short amount of time,” McCullough said.
Roberta Maccianti, director of Property and Management at the Santa Barbara Housing Authority, said the Santa Barbara Housing Authority and Bermant Development Company lent their downtown lot for the construction of the house.
“The Housing Authority and Bermant Development are both very proud to have been able to participate and provide the land, and even some of the volunteer labor to help make this project a reality,” Maccianti said.
Cronshaw said the Katrina House project is still $40,000 short of reaching its fundraising goal, but said he is confident that it will be able to accumulate the remaining funds through donations in the near future.