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10/23/2018 10:28:00 AM
'I CAN'T BELIEVE IT'S MINE:' First families move into Carter Build neighborhood

Joseph Dits, South Bend Tribune Staff Writer

Kaniece Davidovic placed three chairs and a pumpkin on the front porch of a two-story house that, two months ago, was swarmed by volunteers.

On that warm, muggy August week, this turf at Byrkit Street and Jefferson Boulevard was the domain of 2,000 volunteers — among them, country music stars Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood — who’d come to help erect a Habitat for Humanity neighborhood.

Davidovic and her two kids are among the first ones to call it theirs, receiving her keys two weeks ago.

“It feels great,” said Davidovic, whose story The Tribune told in August. She’d lost her 21-year-old daughter to an act of violence last November, after that daughter had applied for this Habitat house for her mom. “I can’t believe it’s mine. I can’t believe I did it.”

So far, new owners have signed no-interest mortgages on five of the 23 homes at the site of the Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project, where the Carters also toiled. By the end of this week, two more owners will have signed mortgages, said Jim Williams, president and CEO of the Habitat affiliate in St. Joseph County.

Williams said he texted Brooks this weekend and cheered at him Saturday at Brooks’ concert in the chilly stands of Notre Dame Stadium.

The goal, now, is the same as it was in August: To finalize mortgages on a total of 16 homes by Christmas — and the rest by the end of February, Williams said.

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