WSLS dedicates Home for Good project with Habitat for Humanity

The new owners are set to move in immediately

ROANOKE, Va. – A crowd of several dozen people gathered on the driveway of the newly built home in southeast Roanoke, as several people gave short speech from the front porch. Despite a slight drizzle, the mood was upbeat.

“I have been so impressed not only with their hard work but also their dedication and commitment to each other through some very tough times,” said Dianne Phillips, a Family services mentor for Habitat for Humanity, speaking to the home’s new owners, Elhaj Baya and Rouaa Rahmaoui.

“Today marks the point where they are transitioning and leaving behind forever renting and transitioning to becoming a home buyer so congratulations,” said Karen Mason Habitat Executive Director.

Moments later, the new homeowners handed her the ceremonial first check, as Mason explained that Habitat does not give homes to people, rather it provides a low-cost and permanent housing solution for people who might otherwise not be able to afford a house.

Habitat builds quickly

Five short months ago volunteers, sponsors, city leaders, and Habitat for Humanity crews raised the wall for the project. Through the winter, those same groups teamed up for workdays as a house rose from that simple wall raising.

All that led to today, as a crowd gathered to dedicate the house where Elhaj and Rouaa — who emigrated to the United States from Morocco, will be making a home.

“I thank you from my heart — so I love everybody,” Elhaj told the crowd of onlookers.

“I am so happy that I finished this nice program and became a homeowner,” Rouaa said.

After a brief ceremony where WSLS 10 presented the keys and the new owners cut a ribbon under the watchful eye of Roanoke Mayor Sherman Lea, the crowd filtered inside to see the home and sample Rouaa’s cooking. She explained that she had been up most of the night at the couple’s apartment preparing the feast.

“I never thought this would happen. I waited 18 years to have my own house,” Elhaj said.

About the Author

John Carlin co-anchors the 5, 5:30, 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts on WSLS 10.

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