christine hayes_web.jpg(Florida International University) – A house of her own. For Christine Hayes, it’s a dream come true.

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Miami last week turned over another 18 homes to Liberty City residents, part of a construction blitz aimed at building some 200 homes in the community.

“I feel so blessed now,” Hayes said during a home dedication ceremony Saturday. “I didn't just receive a house; now I have a home."

Habitat, a Christian Ministry whose volunteers build affordable housing for low-income families, began working in Liberty City last year, but already has completed several dozen homes.

After initial difficulty convincing people to choose lots in the much-maligned neighborhood, interest in Habitat recently has boomed.

"Once people started seeing others succeeding here, they soon realized they could have similar experiences in Liberty City, as well," said Andrea Schleider, a Habitat spokeswoman.

Misconstrued images of crime, corruption and drugs scared many away from choosing Liberty City as the location for their homes. The positive experiences of those that have already gone through the program have helped to get others to follow.

“My new neighborhood is peaceful. I like the area. It’s near shops and the post office,” said Hayes.

Recipients of Habitat houses must spend between 250 and 300 hours helping to build their homes or those of others. They are able to purchase the homes, with affordable mortgages that Habitat provides.

Liberty City residents have a long history of seeing promises made and broken by organizations intending to upgrade the area. Habitat attributes much of its success to its ability to form communities among the families by creating bonds during the building process.

“Habitat has a well-deserved reputation for following through with what they see. Liberty City has been over promised and under-served,” said CEO Mario Artecona.

Morel Volcy also received a home last week.

Volcy, originally from Haiti, moved to South Florida to make enough money to bring his family over, as well.

Volcy has three sons and one daughter attending Miami Edison High School and they are  planning to move into their new home in a week.

"It took me six years to make enough money to get my family to America," said Volcy, "I am very happy that we will now have a home for all of us to live in."

Jessica De Leon may be contacted at