By William Darling
Special to The PREVIEW
Habitat for Humanity in Archuleta County has completed another successful year under the leadership of Kyle Cox, its president, and with the efforts of Habitat’s board of directors, its staff, its construction supervisor and all of the people who have volunteered or who have made cash or in kind donations.
This is Habitat’s 22nd year and one during which Habitat completed its 26th house and another four repair projects.
Habitat’s primary program over the years has been to provide affordable housing through partnering with low-income families in building houses with them at a lower cost than they can obtain on the traditional housing market and financing their houses for them at zero percent interest.
There are two key elements in Habitat’s building program. First, our families have to work at least 500 hours in helping to build their own homes. Second, Habitat families have to repay Habitat the actual cost of their homes through a zero percent interest, 30-year loan.
Habitat gives them “a hand up, not a hand out.” This program gives our families pride of ownership and a financial stake in their homes from the very beginning.
So far, our Habitat has built 26 houses in the Town of Pagosa Springs and Archuleta County. In recent years and, even during the recession, we have been able to build almost one house a year.
Children who have the security and stability of a Habitat home have a much better chance of success in school, success in life and a much lower rate of problems with law enforcement. Secure, stable and affordable housing is the key to the American dream and happy successful families in our community.
In recent years, Habitat has added a repair program. The repair program is primarily for low-income people, typically senior citizens or people with disabilities, who own their own homes, but who don’t have enough income to maintain or repair their own homes or to modify their homes to meet changing circumstances such as mobility challenges.
They pay Habitat back the cost of their repairs over a three- to five-year period at zero percent interest. Without this program, many of the people that we help would not be able to continue to enjoy the independence and satisfaction of home ownership.
Since our repair program started about five years ago, we have tried to do at least five repairs each year.
‘A hand up, not a hand out’
Our philosophy is to help people help themselves. Where they are physically able to do so, they have to help build or repair their homes. They also have to repay Habitat for Habitat’s cost of the construction or repairs so that we can use that money for future projects.
Repayment is on terms that our partners can afford. Our programs are designed to promote stability and security through the responsibility of home ownership.
A time to pass the baton
Habitat in Pagosa Springs and Archuleta County is poised to have another successful year doing its part to provide affordable housing.
We have the finances and we have the tools, but we need more people. Cox, our outgoing president, has done a fantastic job over the last six years (four as president), but he is moving on and we need to find a replacement.
We are also in need of a new executive director, a new construction supervisor, several new board members and more volunteers, who are the backbone of our work efforts.
Habitat has been a very successful community endeavor — we couldn’t have done what we have done without community support. We need your continued support to further our success in providing affordable housing in our community.
If you would like to help in any capacity, please contact Bill Darling at firstname.lastname@example.org or Patty Brown at email@example.com.
Darling is the acting president of Habitat and wants to make sure that it have a successful transition in Habitat’s continued service to the future of Pagosa Springs and Archuleta County.