We were quite shocked, four months ago, to discover a Habitat For Humanity affordable housing development under construction on the 2000 block of N. 16th St., in the vicinity of Temple University. Construction near Temple that's not student housing? Inconceivable!

Vizzini can't believe it either

The project, which is being built in two phases, is called Diamond Park, and will ultimately entail the construction of 21 two story homes on long vacant lots that were previously owned by City agencies. The first phase, 12 units between Page and Fontain Streets, got started about a month before our previous post. At that time, we saw a bunch of foundations and a pair of homes were just starting the framing process. A reader checked in the other day, having done some volunteer work over the weekend, encouraging us to check out the progress. The homes have come a pretty long way, we must say.

Diamond Park

Closer look

View from the north

The project is moving so quickly in part because of the 3rd Annual Builders' Challenge, which meant several contracting companies donating time to totally frame out four of the homes in two days. This saved roughly $10K in costs per home, and also shaved three months off of the project timeline. That's pretty unbelievable.

We're often critical of affordable housing projects because they tend to use of taxpayer dollars very inefficiently and often don't even help people that are truly in need. Habitat For Humanity, as we've said on several occasions in the past, is an exception to this rule, not only doing a good job identifying buyers, but also requiring home ownership workshop attendance and the completion of 350 "sweat equity" hours, building or repairing other Habitat homes. The reader who volunteered recently was painting side by side with women from two partner families that will be moving into the development.

If you'd like to volunteer for H4H, whether it's for this project or another project around town, click here.