CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - A group of sixteen Cleveland high school students are working hard this summer, giving up a portion of their vacation to rehab vacant houses in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood.
It's part of Building Great Futures, an initiative by Habitat for Humanity, Boys and Girls Clubs, and Youth Opportunities Unlimited.
Since April, the teenagers have been learning the basics of building.
"First off, we've been learning how to be safe and stuff," said John Adams High School student Christian Alexander. "Then how to carry stuff, and how to do it and how not to do it."
The teens are working on two homes on East 130 Street, just a pair of the 5,500 abandoned home in the city. Five years ago, Habitat for Humanity changed their model, seeing how many vacant homes were sitting unused, bringing blight and crime to the neighborhoods. Now, they rehab those homes, fixing them up for new homeowners.
"It makes me feel good because I know a lot of people...give back to me, and I've been in a lot of programs that we had others help us, so I want to give back, too, and help others," said Alexander.
The teens will make $10 an hour for their work, and expect the projects to take about ten weeks to complete.
They've gotten free classes in building and safety from Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc., which volunteered builders' time and expertise for the project.
Some students, like Alexander, are looking toward construction as a career. He says his father and grandfather are both builders, and he wants to follow in their footsteps. Other teens, like Juruan Hardin, say they don't think they'll pursue construction work full-time after they finish school, but they're glad they're learning skills that will help them in the future.
"For when I get my own house, I won't have to call nobody. I can do it myself," said Hardin.
The two homes on E 130th St. are just the beginning of Habitat for Humanity's 2018 plan. They want to rehab eight homes in that neighborhood by the end of this year.