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Sharing shelter

Matt Zalaznick/Scott Miller
The Morroy-Orenday family Ñ from left, Joseph, Rickey, Johnathon and Lea Ann (holding her infant son) Ñ stand in front of the home built for them by Habitat for Humanity volunteers.
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On a recent Saturday, volunteers finished the eighth home built by the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity.The home, finished Sept. 6 by Habitat for Humanity of Eagle & Lake Counties, stands at Second and James streets in Leadville and belongs to Lea Ann Monrroy and her four boys. The family expressed their gratitude for the work of the 350 volunteers who helped out, said Kim Bell Williams, of Habitat for Humanity.Habitat’s Nancy Boeve, who helps select the families homes will be built for, called the construction an “amazing accomplishment.””This home is the seventh home built in Leadville by Habitat families and volunteers in the past four years. This is an amazing accomplishment for our community,” Boeve said.Monrroy, along with family and friends, put over 450 hours of sweat equity into building the home. Habitat volunteers began building the home May 31 and completed construction in 13 weeks, Williams said.Local contractors – such as Ground Control, which did excavation and foundation work, Grand Peaks Electric, Fieldstone Heating & Plumbing, TAB Associates and Monroe-Newell Engineering- helped build the home, said Todd Horn, Habitat’s construction manager.Habitat will soon be back at work on its ninth home – this time in Eagle County on land along Third Street donated through the organization’s partnership with the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District.The home will actually be a duplex addition, built on a site that now holds a single-family home owned by the Water and Sanitation District. Tom Healy, the organization’s executive director, has talked about building one, and perhaps two, Habitat homes in the valley next year. Very real prospects exist for even more land in the future, he has said.”Habitat will begin work on its ninth home by the end of September – this home is in the town of Eagle,” Healy said. “We hope it is only the beginning of a great partnership in building affordable housing in this community.”After the local group received its charter from Habitat for Humanity International in 1995, volunteers found land and built a home in Gypsum in 1996. At the time, though, the valley’s most recent real estate boom was peaking, making land acquisition virtually impossible.The people who move into Habitat houses are those who would otherwise be unable to purchase homes of their own. Participating families may earn no more than 50 to 60 percent of an area’s median income.Need is a major qualifying factor, too. Qualifying families must currently be living in “substandard housing,” a definition that encompasses crowding, or living in rental units with defects ranging from plumbing trouble to problems keeping out the elements.Those conditions are noted by the board that reviews applications. Those standards are often the determining factor. For instance, a family with no heat in the bathroom would lose out to a family without functional plumbing.In addition to need and income, families must be full and willing participants in Habitat’s philosophy of helping those willing to help themselves. The group’s rules require each family put 100 hours into construction and another 150 hours into other home projects and classes on household budgeting and similar topics.Families who qualify, buy their homes, but pay a principal-only mortgage, since Habitat follows an Old Testament prohibition of not charging interest on loans. Those mortgages are also far below market prices.In this area, Habitat homes are priced well below the actual cost of construction. Even so, Habitat homes built in this area cost far more than the national average of about $46,000.Homes in Leadville have been sold for around $90,000, depending on a qualifying family’s income. The home in Eagle will be more expensive, since the local median income is just about double what it is in Lake County.Given the low prices and tight budgets, it’s no surprise that Habitat homes lack a lot of frills, which also reflects the group’s mantra of “simple, decent housing.”


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