Meritage Homes and Operation Homefront presented a veteran and his family with a brand new, energy efficient, mortgage-free home in Commerce City on Nov. 9.
Sgt. Herbert Jackson is a two-time Purple Heart recipient. Originally from Memphis, Jackson enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2006 as an IT specialist. After completing multiple missions in Iraq, he was honorably discharged in 2013.
[Related: A home for a hero]
The Jacksons received their home as part of Operation Homefront’s Homes on the Homefront program. Launched in 2008, Homes on the Homefront is essentially a financial literacy program. Operation Homefront works with builders and lenders to provide military families with a new or foreclosed home. Families submit an application, which is reviewed by caseworkers who recommend three potential beneficiaries. The final decision is made by COO Robert Thomas.
Operation Homefront will maintain the deed on the home for two years as the homeowners learn “what homeownership is all about, understand the cost,” CEO John Pray, a retired brigadier general of the Air Force, said. At the end of the two years, families that have successfully integrated into their community, reduced their debt and increased their savings will receive the deed and own the home free and clear.
In choosing beneficiaries for the program, Operation Homefront looks for families that have ties to the local community. “We feel that it makes a family more successful as they transition into their civilian communities, or back into their civic communities, [to have] that connection,” Pray said. The organization also looks for candidates who have a need for a home, but who have the financial stability to be successful homeowners.
“Our mission is to build strong, stable and secure military families so they can thrive, not simply struggle to get by,” Pray said.
[Related: Casting for community]
The Jackson’s home is the 12th home that Operation Homefront has worked on with Meritage. Eight of those homes have been deeded and handed over to the owners.
This is the first year that Meritage has built a home in Colorado with Operation Homefront, according to Rusty Crandall, division president for Meritage Homes. The company selected the Buffalo Highlands neighborhood in Commerce City near the new V.A. hospital.
“When we select the community, we don’t know who the family is yet,” Crandall said. “The assumption is that there might be some need for rehabilitation or ongoing treatment, so we thought being close to the new V.A. facility would certainly be a benefit.”
Meritage built the 1,837-square-foot home one-story ranch with three bedrooms and two bathrooms for Jackson, his wife Erica and their three children. It includes Meritage’s M.Connected Home automation suite, which includes Wi-Fi-enabled devices, ENERGY STAR appliances and energy efficient windows, spray foam insulation, a two-car garage, a private study or flex room and a covered outdoor living area.
Meritage worked with Operation Homefront to learn more about the Jacksons and their children to personalize the home for them.
“We’ll try to meet as many of those needs as possible just to make it even more special,” Crandall said.
Danielle Andrus was previously the managing editor for Colorado Builder, and is currently Editor for the Journal of Financial Planning.