Habitat group receives block grant to help build four homes
BRISTOL — Pemi-Valley Habitat for Humanity and a group of student volunteers from Bedford High School will be building the second of four houses of a project for local families in need.
Construction has already begun on one home but the second home will begin next week, with volunteers working from April 17 through 19. The homes will be located on Hedstrom Way, which is named after Reverend Douglas Hedstrom of Bristol United Church of Christ who passed away almost three years ago.
According to Diana Daigle, Public Relations and Financing Chair for Pemi- Valley Habitat for Humanity, families are selected through an application process by a Family Selection Committee. She explained that they can qualify by having a need for adequate shelter, as well as their ability to pay closing costs and the monthly house payments. They also need to be willing to partner with Habitat, which includes contributing 500 hours of sweat-equity into the home.
The first home, which is currently being built, is for Jennifer Gibbs and her three sons. The second home is for James and Patricia Reynolds and their three children, including a new baby who arrived a week prior to the ground breaking. The third home is for Jennifer and John Sprague and their daughter and the fourth home will go to Matt and Alice Mickewicz and their son.
She explained that Pemi- Valley Habitat received a community development block grant, which is paying for this site work and for the purchase of the property. Pemi-Valley Habitat was the first Habitat affiliate to be awarded a CDBG grant in New Hampshire.
“It did not come without challenges,” Daigle said. “We worked feverishly to get through all the red tape that comes along with receiving grant monies.”
She said that among the challenges was an issue with the land purchase. Working with the Community Development Finance Authority and the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority, they were able to reach an agreement and get the project going.
She thanked George Hunton and Meena Gyawali at CDFA and to Ignatius McLellan and Carolyn Boland at NHHFA for their work. Paul Turley from Turley Construction is the construction chair for the project. She added that Woodsville Guaranty Savings Bank is financing the match for the construction of the four homes over the next two years. Attorney Deb Reynolds also provided expertise that Daigle said was invaluable.
Brian McCarthy, executive director of Pemi-Valley Habitat explained that six years ago, when the DOT widened Route 3A South, NHHFA approached Pemi- Valley Habitat with a plan to purchase property from DOT. They wanted to purchase it and lease the property to Pemi-Valley Habitat until they were ready to build, with a purchase price of $63,000. However, he explained that the site work would be very expensive and that the home owners with Habitat pay a mortgage that is low because of the volunteer labor.
“Even doing a four home cluster development, spreading the site work expenses over four mortgages would have made the homes too expensive for Habitat families,” McCarthy said. “And, we did not have the cash, estimated at $200,000 to do the site work. So, we sat on that project for six years without a solution in site. That is, until we called the Community Development Finance Authority to see if we might be eligible for any program that they administer.”
McCarthy explained that they may be eligible for a community development block grant, but the CDFA warned that, although many had tried, no Habitat in the state had been give the grant.
“But, we gave it a shot and were pleased when we were awarded $244,000 to pay for the site work on the property,” McCarthy said. “This paid for the road, the shared septic system and shared well. That allowed us to go forward with the project. It’s also interesting to note that this is the first ever cluster sub-division in Bristol and this is the first multi-home Habitat project on one property in N.H. Not bad for a small affiliate in Plymouth. We have finished the first home and Jennifer Gibbs and her three sons, Jeffrey, Lucas and Owen are moved in to their beautiful, new, energy efficient home.”
McCarthy said that Habitat builds simple but energy efficient homes with square footage of about 1,100 square feet. They are three bedroom houses with one bathroom, built beyond Energy Star rating so they have an extremely energy efficient home. McCarthy said that they have volunteers from all over, and that they are a wide variety of ages and backgrounds. He added that they are also fortunate to have a Campus Chapter of Habitat for Humanity at Plymouth State. He said that they have also had groups from the New Hampton School that will be coming back to the build, to go along with the group from Bedford.
“Often times, plumbers and electricians will donate their time as well,” Mc- Carthy explained. “We often get materials at reduced costs or donated. Dow donates fiber board insulation. Whirlpool donates a stove and refrigerator for every Habitat home. We do an annual campaign to raise funds. Our ReStore in Ashland is also a source of funds that go toward our builds.”
McCarthy explained that the Campus Chapter holds also holds raisers. The Bristol United Church of Christ held a fund raising dinner recently and donations come from many places. However, normally they build one home per year and this project calls for building two per year, for two years.
This house will be finished by the fall and house three will be finished in the spring of 2014. The final house is scheduled to be finished by the fall of 2014.
For more information log onto pemivalleyhabitat.org.