Joshua, 9, left, Jonathon, 8, Guillermo, 37, and Caleb Sanchez, 11, have qualified for one of the 10 houses Habitat for Humanity building at the Sweet Place Subdivision in Medford. Mail Tribune Photo / Jamie Lusch - Jamie Lusch

A New Door Opens

A Medford father and his three sons can't wait to move out of their small, ramshackle rental house on Howard Street and into the first home in a new subdivision under construction by Rogue Valley Habitat for Humanity.

"I've been dreaming of a safe place for my kids, a better future for them," said Guillermo Sanchez, 37, who is divorced and works as a cook at two area restaurants to support his sons, Caleb, 11, Joshua, 9, and Jonathan, 8.

Providing safe homes and brighter futures is the reason Habitat is building 10 new homes at the corner of North Ross Lane and Sweet Road, said Denise James, executive director.

Habitat purchased the property for the Sweet Place Subdivision about a year ago.

The new homes will be constructed in townhouse style and built in groups of two, said James.

The first four families have been chosen and have begun their required 500 hours of sweat equity. Families can work on the construction of their own home, on other Habitat construction projects, at the organization's ReStore on Fir Street in Medford, or at fundraising and special events, she said.

Sanchez has been logging hours for the past two months, working on Habitat construction sites and at the store. It's proving to be a helpful learning experience for this first-time homeowner, he said.

"It will help me understand how to maintain a house in good condition," he said.

The Habitat subdivision's infrastructure, which includes sewer, water, utilities, curbs, sidewalks and a new street, is being built. Construction on the Sanchezes' new home is expected to begin within the next two to three weeks, depending on the timetable of the city building department and the issuance of permits, said James.

"Funding the project has been one of our biggest obstacles, as the required infrastructure work has a price tag of nearly $200,000," James said.

While the parent company, Habitat for Humanity International in Georgia, offers support, all resources are raised locally. Upon completion, houses are sold to the family for the cost of construction with a no-interest, 30-year mortgage note, James said.

"The organization receives all the money back that was put into each house, it just takes 30 years to get it," James said.

Sanchez and sons are currently living in overcrowded and substandard conditions, said James.

The home's heating and cooling systems are broken, just to name two problems, said Joshua. The 9-year-old said he's looking forward to a house with air conditioning.

"Thank you to all the people," he said. "We've been sweating a lot in here."

"This house is all broken up," agreed his older brother, Caleb.

"I'm going to kind of miss it though, because I've been here all my life," he added. "But the (Habitat house) will be all new and have more space. I'm really excited."

Sanchez' youngest son has no mixed feelings about the pending move.

"I'm gonna be happy about everything at the new house," said Jonathan. "We're gonna have a more better life there."

The Sanchez house is being sponsored by Thrivent Financial for Lutheran's, a financial institution that has a national partnership with Habitat for Humanity. The grant will cover all the costs of the project and will be built in partnership with many volunteers from local Lutheran churches, James said.

The second subdivision home will be built for a family of five — two adults and three children. The family currently lives in "a very old and dilapidated trailer, and feel they are in the midst of gang members, feeling frightened most of the time," James said, adding the home is being sponsored by a collaboration of other local churches in an "Apostle's Build" project.

Construction of the third and fourth houses will be determined by the amount of funding and support received. When the majority of the necessary funds are raised or committed, work will begin on the project, "hopefully by fall of this year," James said.

The second phase of the Sweet Place project is slated for spring 2011. Rogue Valley Habitat for Humanity is looking for qualified home applicants and volunteers for the subdivision project, James said. Interested parties can contact her at 541-773-3411 or e-mail her at

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or e-mail

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