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PEORIA, Ariz. -- Raymond Jordan and his family have traveled from here to Mexico to build a good life.

Now, thanks to nonprofit homebuilder Habitat for Humanity and members of the Access Church in Peoria, he's helping to build his family a two-story house near 90th and Peoria avenues.

Habitat for Humanity builds and/or repairs affordable homes for families based on their need, income, and willingness to become a partner.

Jordan and his wife have two children, 8 and 5. Their road to this house began south of the border.

"My wife and I moved to Mexico to own a store and take on that," said Jordan. "That's when it started to get very violent down there a few years ago. We decided that we didn't care how much it was going to take, we were going to get out of there.

"So we racked up a huge debt on a credit card to get out of there and get back here and be safe."

Jordan works as a personal banker but with his credit ruined, it looked like owning a home would be impossible.

"It's hard to get into a traditional mortgage without that high credit score," said Jordan. "Habitat supplied everything I needed to get back on the right track."

With his family putting in 400 hours of "sweat equity," Jordan met Habitat's requirements for a HUD-financed zero percent loan, with a payment of $400-$500 dollars a month.

With supervision from Habitat's construction workers, Jordan is helping to build the house. "I have no idea what I'm doing with construction, I'm a computer nerd," he said.

But there was progress on his first day. "We put the first wall up today. It was a great feeling. I couldn't stop smiling."

Church member Tiffany Dinbokowitz said the volunteers will leave something behind at the house. "Each one of us was actually able to sign the walls of the home and either write a prayer or a blessing or even just sign our names. Just something that says we were here."

Jordan is telling his kids that the house is part of this year's Christmas gifts. He'll get the keys in April, and knows just what he wants to do.

He laughed as he said "I've told my wife for years that I've wanted a pingpong table, so we'll need to find a place to put that."

"They (the six homes being built in Peoria) are all going to a family that Habitat has selected that has already put in a significant number of their volunteer hours," said Carin Imig of the City of Peoria, which is a corporate partner on the project.

"All of the loans that the people receive to buy the homes is made available by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, through HUD." Habitat acts as the banker or lender.

One of the six new homes will be finished around Jan. 5, with the owner getting the keys around Feb. 1.

Cassandra Jarles with Habitat is amazed at the hundreds of people who are helping with the projects. "The busiest time of their year is probably around Christmas time, and they're still willing to sacrifice their time and come out here, so we really appreciate that."

Imig said it's also an inspiration to the city. "We find it meaningful every day of the year," she said.

Bob McClay, Reporter

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