Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley adds 7 new homes to Stratton Flats neighborhood
GYPSUM — After growing up in Eagle County and spending her whole life here, Modesta Serna did not want to leave.
As of summer 2017, however, a lack of housing in the area for Modesta and her three daughters had left the family few options. They were all sharing a room and a closet when Modesta received the news that she had qualified to become a Habitat for Humanity homeowner.
“I raised my oldest daughter here and I wanted to raise my other two kids here, as well,” Modesta said.
Modesta will now make monthly house payments on a low-cost, no-interest mortgage, which in turn will go toward building more homes in Eagle County.
Modesta qualified for the mortgage right away as her job at Walmart in Avon provides her enough income to make the payments. For some of her neighbors, however, the process wasn’t as easy.
Sergio Rincon and his wife Xochitl had been applying for a Habitat Vail Valley home for years, but they weren’t making enough to make the payments.
“The money we were making was very low,” he said. “But after that, I changed work, I started working part time at Walmart and working at different apartments doing maintenance.”
He applied again and was accepted, and then the sweat equity began.
Each two-parent family that earns a house with Habitat for Humanity must put in 500 hours.
“(The sweat equity workers) get to know each other pretty well,” says Development Director Elyse Howard.
Sergio Rincon said he worked every Saturday.
“We paid a babysitter for coming to work for free,” Sergio said. “But we know these guys need, because I see this needs a lot of volunteers, and they say yeah these guys need help.”
Most of the families end up putting in more than the 500 required hours of labor, Howard said.
“Which is great because it just helps to build community as they’re going to be neighbors, hopefully for a long time,” she said.
The Stratton Flats neighborhood where Sergio now lives contains 35 other Habitat for Humanity homes.
Seven new homes — including Modesta’s and Sergio’s three-bedroom, one-and-a-half bathroom units — were recently completed and celebrated with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Saturday, Aug. 18.
The seven homes represented the completion of the sixth phase in a seven phase project that has been underway for years in the neighborhood.
The seventh phase consists of four more homes and is expected to be complete in the summer of 2019.
Following Stratton Flats, Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley will turn its attention to the IK Bar area of Gypsum, where they recently received approval to build 12 homes.
“Once we leave here next year, we’ll start building down there, and then we hope to come back here,” Howard said from Stratton Flats on Saturday. “And hopefully in a few years we’ll be able to put 36 more homes here in Stratton Flats.”
Since 1995, Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley has built and renovated 74 homes in Eagle and Lake counties in the communities of Leadville, Edwards, Eagle and Gypsum.
While policymakers are celebrating a big drop in Colorado’s individual health insurance prices for 2020, they’re also scrambling to combat the sharp decline in the number of carriers in rural parts of the state where 22 of 64 counties have just one option on the Obamacare marketplace.