Madera family becomes homeowners through Habitat for Humanity

MADERA, Calif. -- A life-changing day for the Vargas family.

"It has been very hard for us," says Melissa Vargas. "We prayed, and I thank the Lord for this beautiful house."

Melissa is a mother of five and never thought she would one day hold the keys to her own home.

"Especially with this market, houses are expensive," she said. "I thought we were not going to get a house. It was a struggle."

For years, her family rented an apartment.

"We just had a little tiny balcony and it's not the same thing," she said. "My kids want to have their pool to swim, to play. They want to run. They want to have a trampoline. We have four bedrooms and two bathrooms for us is actually a pretty big deal."

After putting in 500 hours building the house and meeting other qualifications, they were able to purchase the home through the Habitat for Humanity Greater Fresno Area Homeownership Program.

The organization and the City of Madera have partnered to help first-time homebuyers.

"If you're looking at buying or purchasing a home, they're $300,000," says Madera Mayor Santos Garcia. "There's just no way that residents from Madera, particularly in low-income neighborhoods, are going to be able to afford that. So we provide infrastructure, land and monies to be able to help them purchase their own home."

So how affordable are these homes?

Habitat for Humanity sold one for $270,000, which is the average price around that neighborhood.

But the family received almost half of that in down payment assistance.

The median home price in Madera is a little more than $353,000 putting homeownership out of reach for many.

The organization is still taking applications for three other brand new homes on that block.