ST. PAUL, Minn--When the housing bubble burst, Frogtown, like many neighborhoods was hit hard. But unlike other places recovery there has been slow.

"I've been concerned because we've had so many empty houses and vacant lots," Norma Roberts-Hakizimana, a longtime Frogtown resident, said.

On Tuesday she was happy to see the fresh dirt on a lawn a few blocks over.

The City of St. Paul in partnership with Goodwill/Easter Seals and Urban Homeworks are building two affordable houses. The work is being done by students who are all being trained for work in construction.

"For me I would never have thought I would be in a place where I could actually be a part of something that's going to benefit someone else," James Avery, who is just three weeks from graduating from the 12 week program, said.

The work he's doing isn't just raising roofs, it's raising hope.

"It's rejuvenated me. It's helped me build my pride back up as a man. I've been through a lot of things in my past so this program is giving me a second opportunity to provide for my family," Avery said.

The goal is to build at least four more homes by the end of 2014. St. Paul's Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity Department gave $200,600 to help expand the construction training program.