Habitat building a community in west Tulsa

Thursday, January 19th 2006, 10:36 am
By: News On 6

A west Tulsa neighborhood once nearly taken over by drug dealers is being reclaimed and rebuilt.

The group Habitat for Humanity began laying the groundwork for one of it's biggest projects there last year, now News on 6reporter Heather Lewin explains just how far they've gotten.

At first it was just a dream, built on a willingness to do hard work and a strong foundation of hope. Now, five months later, that concrete slab is a brand new family home. Project managers say it's a building block in what they ultimately hope to create here, a real sense of community.

Dena Fink feels it already, she's been in her Habitat home for almost two years. "It's improved tremendously. It used to be a bad neighborhood, but it seems to be a lot quieter, a lot more peaceful, more kids can come out and play, it's just nice. Really nice."

Her home is one now of many lining the streets across from a park recently developed by the city. Habitat crews, along with the new homeowners have already built 39 houses.

"I never tire of seeing the excitement of the families." Some lots the group purchased, others were donated, like when authorities demolished several drug houses, then gave Habitat the land. Director Gary Casteel says property values are on the rise and 70-percent of neighborhood families own their homes. “The neighborhood has a checkered past, lots of neighborhoods do."

But with hard work, he has a vision for the future of South Haven. "This area will be a treasure to live in."

Dena Fink: "You just, I have a feeling in my heart that I was able to accomplish this with help from someone else to give me my dream for my kids. It's wonderful."

Habitat for Humanity plans to build 6 new houses in South Haven this year. Others are getting into the act. A neighborhood church is trying to raise more than $2-million to build a community center.