LAYTON -- Although the family hasn't been chosen yet, builders and realtors broke ground on a new home they hope will be an answer to a prayer.
The Northern Wasatch Association of Realtors and the Northern Wasatch Home Builders Association participated in a ground breaking ceremony on Wednesday morning where construction for a 2,833 square foot home in Layton will go to a family in need. The project is part of the Have A Heart Home Foundation program, started by NWAOR and NWHBA 15 years ago. This year, Nilson Homes will build the house on a lot donated by Layton city.
Christy Vail, president of NWAOR, said the goal of Have A Heart Home is to assist a special needs family in realizing the dream of home ownership. Families who are given the home have significant obstacles which prevent them from being able to get into a house on their own.
"We look for a family that has special needs but mostly we look for a family who without the help of a program like this would not be able to realize the American dream and afford their own home," she said. "These families are all first time buyers. They typically have a child with severe medical problems or they themselves have different challenges and circumstances that make it impossible for them to purchase a home."
The foundation which started through the partnership of NWAOR and NWHBA, is a non-profit organization, Vail said. One-hundred percent of received donations go directly to the home.
"This is all funded through contributions," Vail said. "Cash and in-kind donations come from realtors, partners, lenders and title companies. Once the home is finished, it is sold to the chosen family far below market value. The vast majority of lending costs are donated as well as title expenses and closing costs."
So far, Have A Heart Foundation has provided 22 homes to special needs families, Vail said. Nilson Homes has build several of those homes. This particular home will have three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a full-sized basement.
Nilson Homes sales and marketing director, Jed Nilson, said he learned about the program when he came on board at his father Bruce Nilson's company 15 years ago.
"I was very interested because it seemed like a really great way for us to give back to the community," Nilson said. "And miraculously every time we build one of these homes we end up finding the perfect family, so we get to build a brand new home for a family or individual who would not be able to afford it otherwise."
Nilson said once the home is complete, a special ceremony is held where the new family is given the key to their new place.
"I swear every time we find a buyer and we have that ceremony where they tell their story, there's not one person in attendance who isn't bawling tears of happiness for them."
Nilson said the homes are high quality, using the best materials. They are also energy efficient.
"They all fit right in with the neighborhoods," she said. "You would never walk up to or in one of these homes and think it was done for charity. Everyone goes all out. It's a significant undertaking to ask people to bring all of their resources together to build a home and not make any money off of it but it is worth it and it is so wonderful to be able to make such a positive impact in someone's life."