Fifteen years after it began building affordable houses for low-income families, the Macomb County Habitat for Humanity is making big plans to ring in the New Year.

For the Christian housing nonprofit in Macomb County, 2009 will commemorate a major feat -- its 50th house.
The construction of the 1,200-square-foot ranch in the Colchester section of Clinton Township, near the Mt. Clemens border, not only will highlight Macomb Habitat's legacy but also will set a precedent.
In what it is calling the "largest ecumenical build project ever undertaken in Macomb County," the chapter is seeking pledges and volunteers from 240 area churches to make the approximately $100,000 house a reality by September.
"It's our attempt to do a couple things: One is publicize the progress we've been able to make in Macomb County in terms of providing decent, affordable homes for families in need, and also highlight the strong support we've had over the years from the faith community," said Dave Tirsell, church relations director and coordinator of the project called the 2009 50/50 Build.
By early this week, four churches -- First United Methodist of Mt. Clemens, Lake Shore Presbyterian Church in St. Clair Shores, Kensington Community Church-East in Clinton Township and Cross Lutheran Church in Clinton Township -- were signed on as supporters, Tirsell said.
The rest of the commitments from congregations are expected in January, with construction slated to start in April. A family has not been selected for the house, which is to be part of a Habitat subdivision under way since 2007.
The development of several new homes around Howard Street, near Joy Boulevard in what's referred to as the Colchester area of the township, marked the first new construction there in 25 years. They abut an existing, older neighborhood with home owners who have an average yearly income of about $9,000.
Macomb County Habitat for Humanity also has built houses in Mt. Clemens, Roseville and Warren.
"In the early years of Macomb Habitat, we were building one or maybe two homes in a year, so the 50th house is how we've been able to grow the capacity to help families ... through partnerships and business and organizational support," Tirsell said.
With more than 300 houses under its belt, Habitat for Humanity of Detroit said it's important to note those types of accomplishments.
"In general, when you reach those milestones, you certainly want to have a celebration because it's pretty significant," said Vincent Tilford, executive director of Detroit Habitat.

Habitat for Humanity in Oakland County is preparing for its 100th house in 2009.


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