Through the efforts of the local Salt Lake chapter of Habitat for Humanity - and a number of volunteers - two needy families will soon be living in their own homes.

Volunteers working on the twin home come from every Christian denomination in the valley."We're just a group of Christian people from all churches trying to do something," said foreman Tom Tenney.

Tenney and his wife, Karen, live in Ohio where he teaches vocational education during the school year. They arrived in Utah on June 12 to work on the housing project.

"We started framing two weeks ago Tuesday - so the home has gone up in a hurry," Tenney said. "My wife and I will be returning home Friday. Hopefully by then, we'll have the roof on and most of the siding."

Tenney, who has been putting in at least 60 hours a week, says the project is about a week behind schedule. He said the group needs more volunteers to come and help finish the project during the coming week.

"We have been running about 8 to 10 volunteers during the day," Tenney said. "But some of the most enjoyable times have been working with the late shift - on Tuesday and Thursday nights."

Each work day begins with a short five-minute devotional.

"It's to help us remember our purpose," Tenney said. "We are doing this for the Lord, and we must call upon him each day for strength."

On Tuesday and Thursday evenings, ministers and leaders from other churches conduct the devotionals.

Tenney said his involvement with the project began two years ago, when he and his family lost their home in a fire. Members of their church (the Frederick Town United Methodist Church) helped build a new home for the family.

"Through all that, we realized how lucky we were," Tenney said. "And we felt that we owed other people the time and effort we received."

That same year, the Tenneys learned about Habitat for Humanity. They wrote to the national organization and expressed interest in helping. As a result, they were invited to come to Salt Lake this summer.

"Habitat paid our expenses to come out, and our expenses here - as well as a place to stay and our utilities," Tenney said. "But we are not paid a salary."

There are about 270 individual affiliates of non-denominational Habitat for Humanity in the United States. Two are in Utah - one in Salt Lake and the other in Brigham City. "We are not a church," Tenney explained. "Everyone goes to his own church meetings on Sundays."

Each affiliate raises money to build homes. The Salt Lake affiliate has already supervised the moving of one home and the remodeling of another. But this is the first time it has attempted to build a home from scratch.

"When we started, we didn't have the money in hand," Tenney said. "So we had to work a lot on faith."

And funds continue to come in - from private individuals, church groups, and corporations.

Families who qualify for Habitat housing are lower-income families who cannot qualify for bank loans.

Habitat first selects the family. Then it designs the home to fit that family's needs. It generally takes about two years from the family's initial application to complete a home.

Habitat then carries the mortgage - interest free - while the family pays the cost of the home. At the end of 20 years, the home belongs to the family.

Sharon Bey is one of the two excited Habitat applicants that will soon be living in the home now being built here. She applied in June 1987. Six months later, she received a call from Habitat to see if she was still interested.

A resident of Chicago in 1986, Bey wanted to move to a city where she could find "a little more peace of mind." She felt Salt Lake City was the place. Her mother and other close relatives live here.

Unemployed at the moment, Bey spends much of her time at the job site working on her new home. "I'm hoping it will be completed by the 25th of July," she said. "Of course, a lot depends on the number of volunteers who show up between now and then."

Those interested in working are encouraged to bring a hammer, pencil and tape measure to 948 South Pueblo Street (1440 West). Work hours are 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 6 to 9:15 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday. Snacks will be provided at 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., and lunch at noon. Those who plan to eat lunch should call the Habitat office at 266-6748 so an accurate head count can be taken.

Tenney said it doesn't matter whether you are young or old, experienced and inexperienced, Catholic or Protestant, because differences disappear when you're involved in a common cause.