They spent last week painting, shingling and putting the finishing touches on their house as part of the 500 hours of “sweat equity” that Habitat families are required to log in exchange for the lower cost of their homes. Families buy their homes, which , through no-profit loans with low monthly payments. . Work on Harborside Terrace began in February, with the Jimmy Carter Work Project putting most of the finishing touches on the homes during a high profile week from Oct. 29 through Nov. 2. Each year, former President Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, donate a week of their time to help build Habitat for Humanity homes, bringing with them celebrities and other volunteers in an effort to raise awareness of the need for affordable housing. “It’s been really nice to see Mr. Carter next door building; it just inspires,” said Guerrero, noting that Carter was her father’s favorite president. “It was all about Jimmy Carter in my house growing up.” Guerrero said she is extremely grateful and excited for their new start. “This is the best decision we’ve ever made to help our family and our children to have a brighter future,” Guerrero said. A few houses down from the Bell-Guerrero family are Rosa Vega and her two children, Rosiel Vega and Adan Martinez. They will soon be moving from a converted garage in Wilmington to their three-bedroom Habitat duplex. Rosa Vega, a widow who works at a school that offers computer and English classes, was already making plans for her new home. She anticipates their move-in day will be an emotional one. “I’m going to cry all day,” she said. “And we’re going to have a big party.” She said she plans to cook for her 15 siblings in her new kitchen. Her children said that the weeklong building blitz was a great experience. “It’s busy and tiring, but at last, we’re going to get the house,” said Martinez, 18. Rosiel Vega, 21, marveled at the number of volunteers. “There’s different people from different countries sharing this experience,” she said. The family said they feel lucky to have been chosen by Habitat on their first try. “A lot of people have been applying for years,” Rosiel Vega said. They said they are looking forward to having the extra space, harbor views and great neighbors. “There’s no words to explain,” Rosa Vega said. “It’s like a dream.” The families are expecting to move in some time in December. are built with volunteer labor and donated supplies The homes this year range from $125,000 to $200,000 [email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! By Rachel Jones Staff Writer Esmeralda Guerrero stood in what would be her kitchen, taking a break from painting. “It’s beautiful,” she said, looking around at her new home. “It’s really coming along.” Guerrero and her husband, Andre Bell, were one of the lucky families selected to buy one of the 16 Habitat for Humanity homes being built in San Pedro last week. They worked alongside former President Carter, celebrities and Habitat volunteers to nearly finish the low-income housing project and were given ceremonial keys to their new homes on Nov. 2. Although the Harborside Terrace homes, at 308 North Palos Verdes St., aren’t quite finished, the families are eager to start their new lives in San Pedro. “It’s really nice to be a part of this,” Guerrero said. “I feel so blessed to have a new home.” She and Bell have been renting a small two-bedroom home in South Los Angeles with their four children and grandchild. The pair were disheartened when it seemed that they could not afford to buy a house in their hometown, even when they both worked full time. Guerrero is also taking online classes to get a degree in health care and plans to get her license to be a registered nurse. “It’s been a long time coming,” Bell said of their new home, a two-story duplex with four bedrooms and a large kitchen and living room.