Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley surprises Gypsum teacher with news of new home | VailDaily.com

Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley surprises Gypsum teacher with news of new home

Gypsum Elementary School preschool teacher, Rosa Velasco, is surprised by family, friends and co-workers after being awarded a house on Thursday, April 19, in Gypsum. It was one of 12 Habitat for Humanity grants.
Chris Dillmann | cdillmann@vaildaily.com

Get involved

Habitat for Humanity builds simple, decent, affordable homes in partnership with local families in need. They’re accepting applications for partner families. For more information on Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley, to donate money or real estate or to volunteer, visit http://www.habitatvailvalley.org or call 970-748-6718.

GYPSUM — Rosa Velasco was wrapping up another day teaching preschool Thursday afternoon, April 19. Her tykes were quietly coloring after their nap, when a bunch of balloon-bearing adults strode in and got the kids all worked up.

Velasco and her children, Nadalie and Ayden, had waited six months to learn whether she had been selected as a Habitat for Humanity partner family. They learned Thursday.

They have.

“I don’t know what to say, except thank you so much!” Velasco said through a steady stream of happy tears and hugs.

The school district cut a deal with Habitat for Humanity for 12 homes. Velasco is one of two school district employees who will begin construction this year.

“We are excited to have Rosa, Nadalie and Ayden as part of our Habitat family. We know they are going to be wonderful partners,” said Emily Peyton, program director for Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley.

Velasco’s home will be in Gypsum’s Stratton Flats neighborhood, where Habitat for Humanity has built 40 homes. Habitat and its volunteers will build four homes this year.

Habitat is trying to buy lots in Stratton Flats for 36 more homes. The school district also donated two acres in Gypsum, between Gypsum Creek Middle School and Red Hill Elementary School.

Nothing is free

Nadalie gets her own room. So does her younger brother, Ayden, because they’ll help build it and buy it.

Partner families have to work at least 250 hours building their new home — “sweat equity,” is what Habitat folks call it.

Nadalie doesn’t know much about power tools … yet.

“I’m a fast learner,” Nadalie said.

After they invest hundreds of hours helping build their homes, and after they spend countless hours in classes learning about how to be homeowners and handle their money, Habitat partner families buy their homes with zero-interest loans and payments based on 30 percent of their income.

“This has been a six-month application process. We’re so excited for Rosa and her family. Now her homeownership journey begins,” Peyton said.

Selection is based on need, ability to pay and willingness to partner with Habitat for Humanity. Family income must be between 35 percent and 80 percent of the area’s average median income. For a family of four, that’s $35,000 to $70,720.

You must also be either a U.S. citizen or legal resident.

Affiliate of Distinction

Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley is one of 23 affiliates across the country to be honored as an Affiliate of Distinction. It was the only rural affiliate to earn the honor.

Wander onto a Habitat construction site, and you’ll likely see volunteers wearing T-shirts that ask a very sensible question, “What did you build today?”

“We build homes, community and hope,” said Elyse Howard, development director with the local Habitat affiliate. “We see our homeowners rising to the occasion. Once the basic need of housing is met, they can turn their energy to their community.”

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

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