On Detroit's northeast side on Monday, Saturn joined its Detroit dealers, U-SNAP-BAC, and Jon Bon Jovi with his Soul Charitable Foundation to announce the kickoff of a five-house sponsorship for Habitat for Humanity. Since 2005, Habitat has been back-filling new homes in the MorningSide neighborhood. The project had been going smoothly until recently, when funding began to thin out as the economic slowdown hit local sponsors. The new corporate sponsorship from Saturn was largely driven by local dealers looking to reinvest in a community which has driven Saturn sales in the area up 40% in the last few years.
The event was, of course, marked by some speeches regarding the importance of the project and the great work Habitat does (I can attest to this, having volunteered nearly every weekend with this chapter for two years). After a couple of minutes they brought out the big crane and bashed in the roof of the last remaining house to be demolished. Cool. Oh, and did we mention Jon Bon Jovi was there? 'Cause he was. He even signed the first wall of the project after a bunch of Saturn folks did the wall raising.
DETROIT - While Jon Bon Jovi is used to bringing down the house, today he announced the building of five homes in the MorningSide community on Detroit's East Side. On behalf of his Philadelphia Soul Charitable Foundation, Bon Jovi joined Saturn General Manager Jill Lajdziak, Detroit-area Saturn retailers and Habitat for Humanity Detroit to kick off a construction blitz that will provide five Detroit families with their own homes by the holidays.
The Saturn Hands on Homes program coordinates funding and volunteer efforts with Saturn and its local retailers. The homes will be built on five adjoining lots on Wayburn Street.
At a ceremony today, the last home on the construction sites was torn down and the wall of the first new home was raised. Construction will operate in phases through the summer and early fall, concluding in November.
Saturn's headquarters is in Detroit, a city hit particularly hard by current economic troubles, and Saturn's local retailers volunteered to lead this effort. The location of the build adds another community to the long list of U.S. towns where Jon Bon Jovi's mission to build and/or renovate low-income housing has impacted the lives of deserving families. During the past several years, Bon Jovi and his Philadelphia Soul Charitable Foundation have provided funding for affordable housing units in Philadelphia, Brooklyn, N.Y., Colorado Springs, Colo., Atlanta, Los Angeles and Houma, La. He looks forward to more projects in other cities, including Newark, N.J. this fall.
The announcement in Detroit coincides with tonight's sold-out performance by Bon Jovi at the Palace at Auburn Hills, one of the final dates on the band's Lost Highway World Tour, which is currently the top-selling tour in the world.
"The most basic fundamental of the American dream is home ownership," said Lajdziak. "Saturn believes in being a good neighbor by giving back to people in the communities where we do business. And, given the fact we'll have three different hybrid vehicle models on the market by the end of this year, we're especially pleased that these homes will be constructed using greener building practices."
The homes will feature greener building attributes such as:
Efficient, Energy Star-rated appliances
Rinnai on-demand hot water heaters
Extra-low-VOC interior paint
Dow Safe Touch interior insulation, made of recycled denim
Fully recyclable carpet made of 60-percent recycled materials
Drywall made from the ashes of coal-burning power plants
Trees and "green" landscaping using low-maintenance plants
Rain barrels to collect water for landscape care in a planned community garden
Saturn owners and the general public will have an opportunity to donate money to Saturn Hands on Homes by visiting one of the 10 participating Detroit-area Saturn retailers, which are also donating funds and sponsoring volunteer work crews. After July 21, 2008, donations of cash and time also can be made at www.saturnhandsonhomes.com.
"The Detroit-area retailers are very excited about this project," said Carl Galeana, past president of the Detroit Auto Dealers Association and owner of Saturn of Warren and Saturn of Lakeside. "Our success in this market has been tremendous and, therefore, we are proud to give back to the local community."
Saturn Hands on Homes, Habitat for Humanity, Project H.O.M.E. and the Philadelphia Soul Charitable Foundation teamed up on a similar home-building project that was completed in North Philly in 2007.
Habitat for Humanity is a Christian ministry that works in partnership with people from all walks of life to revitalize neighborhoods through the construction of affordable homes for families who do not qualify for conventional mortgages. Habitat partner families invest 250-400 hours of their own "sweat equity" into building their homes and the homes of others.
"I've seen what a miraculous thing it is to hand someone the keys to a new home - not only a beautiful home that they can be proud to own, but a home that they've invested their own time, sweat and resources in," said Jon Bon Jovi. "Support from the private sector, with companies such as Saturn, helps make these builds possible."
During the past 22 years, Habitat for Humanity Detroit has built or renovated more than 258 affordable homes for low-income working families across the city. Since 2005, the organization has been working with U-SNAP-BAC, an East Side community development organization, and the MorningSide Community Organization to redevelop a 16-block area on Detroit's East Side. This effort builds on the momentum started by U-SNAP-BAC that includes the construction of 120 new housing and rental units.
"These will be beautiful, sustainable and affordable homes built with compassion," said Vincent Tilford, executive director, Habitat for Humanity Detroit. "We're proud to be helping to transform lives, as well as transforming the MorningSide neighborhood."