Habitat for Humanity launched the first national build initiative in the company's history the week of June 5–9, aligning the forces and relationships of professional home builders across the country with the goal of building nearly 500 affordable homes during the Home Builders Blitz.

In McKinney, Texas, big builders Darling Homes, Drees Custom Homes, K. Hovnanian Homes, and Mercedes Homes, as well as local custom company Paul Billingsley Builders and members of the Stonebridge United Methodist Church, rallied the volunteer efforts of their staff and subcontractors to build six homes in a new Habitat neighborhood of Charleston Creek. Together, they donated thousands of dollars of materials and hundreds of hours of labor.

For Habitat's North Collin County, Texas affiliate established in 1993, the project was revolutionary. “As of May, we have done 28 individual homes since our inception, but this is the first time we have been able to do a neighborhood,” says Celeste Faro, the affiliate's executive director. This year, her affiliate is scheduled to build a total of 10 homes, six of which will be completed during the blitz.

HELPING HANDS: As a part of Habitat for Humantiy's 2006 Home Builders Blitz, big builders came together to build six homes in McKinney, Texas. “Our builders have been unbelievable,” says Faro. “Even D.R. Horton, who couldn't help us with a house because of the conflict they have with their own corporate program modeled after Habitat, was supportive. [D.R. Horton's regional president] Rick Horton made calls and aligned us with their partners to get the developing work done. We could have never taken on this many houses without that help.”

Supporting the efforts of the professional community were suppliers and service vendors who pitched in whatever they could. “Thanks to the relationships that our builders have brought to the table, we got a great upgraded sink for the kitchen of our Drees house, and some of the homes have upgraded fixtures or kitchen cabinets,” says Faro. “We even had a Comcast cable representative out here today who has offered to give all the new homeowners free service for a year.”

Heavy competition is something home builders in the Texas markets are certainly used to, so it's no surprise that even when they are teaming up for a good cause, a dose of competitive spirit is still evident. “This experience has been great for us,” says John Robison, production manager at Mercedes Homes. “We've all come together out here and had a great week, but the race was on,” he laughs, noting that on Wednesday the Mercedes team was ready to put in their home's landscaping. “We are happy to say our home is in the lead.”

Although the blitz was conceived as a one-time event, the momentum it generated has Kevin Campbell, Habitat's director of the Home Builders Blitz, speculating that there may be another national blitz effort in Habitat's future. “We already have builders and suppliers talking to us about the ‘next time we do this,'” says Campbell. “It makes a lot of sense to consider something like this as an every-two-year event.”