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On Leave But Ever In Service: New Yorkers In Need Of Homes Get A Hand During Fleet Week

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - More than a dozen U.S. service members in town for Fleet Week are going beyond the call of duty.

Instead of touring around New York City, a handful of sailors and marines are lending a hand to help build a home for a Queens family in need, reports CBS2's Natalie Duddridge.

Marines, Coast Guard and Navy members are volunteering their service differently on land today.

Deondaro Bevel from Tampa, a U.S. Navy sonar technician, was one of many sea service members helping to build a home for a low-income family in South Richmond Hill.

"Giving back all across the world is the most important thing, making sure everybody has a place to stay," said Bevel.

This is the seventh year in a row that sailors in town for fleet week partnered with Habitat for Humanity to give back.

This time they are rebuilding a house near JFK Airport and the Van Wyck that was demolished because it was falling apart.

"We're going to be back-filling part of this foundation with rocks that we've broken up," said Michigan-native Wendy Janson, a U.S. Coast Guard operations specialist.

Habitat NYC officials say this work is more important than ever because the number of people who own homes in New York City is half of the national average.

"It's extremely important that we provide first time home owner ship opportunities for low income New Yorkers," said Matt Dunbar of Habitat for Humanity. "Because on the market they are not being serviced, the homes are too expensive and mortgage rates are too high."

MORE: Fleet Week Kicks Off With Parade Of Ships

"Where I'm from, it's pretty small town so most of the people own their homes," said Indiana-native Jared Kern, a U.S. Marines METOC analyst forecaster. "Here a tiny house like this costs more."

The sailors are helping to build the foundation - frame the walls and truss the roof - turning a lot into a three-bedroom home so a new family can move in. It is expected to be complete in the fall.

For the next few months, every week a new group will come out and help work on finishing the house.

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