Vail Valley Habitat for Humanity, school district partnership growing
Sixth family selected for homes targeted for school district members includes longtime Battle Mountain High staff member
EDWARDS — A new housing partnership is providing a hand up for a longtime staff member of Eagle County Schools.
Manuel Panuco, and his family, will become the sixth school district staffer tabbed as a Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley partner family.
The partnership between Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley and Eagle County Schools is the first of its kind among the 1,400 Habitat affiliates in the nation. The two groups broke ground last spring on 12 homes targeted for district employees.
“There are 30 Habitat for Humanity affiliates across Colorado, and they’re almost all talking about doing projects with teachers,” said Elyse Howard, the development director for Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley.
Sixth of 12 new partners
Panuco’s Battle Mountain colleagues told him he was receiving an award Thursday. He showed up to find his wife, parents and dozens of friends on hand for the announcement.
Panuco has worked with Battle Mountain High School for decades. He and his wife, Raquel, have four children and live in Eagle.
The Panuco family is the sixth Habitat family selected through its partnership with Eagle County Schools.
“We congratulate Manuel and his entire family on his selection. We’re also thankful for our partnership with Habitat for Humanity and proud that it has already led to six homes for our employees,” the school district said.
Most recently, Rosa Velasco and Vicky Reyes completed their homes in Gypsum’s Stratton Flats neighborhood. Three other school district employees — Elena Chavez, Elvia Gonzalez, and Guillermina Velasco — are building their homes in the IK Bar neighborhood.
In 2017 the school district donated 2.3 acres between Gypsum Creek Middle School and Red Hill Elementary School, known as the IK Bar, to the local Habitat affiliate. The school board unanimously approved a Letter of Intent on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017.
How to qualify for a Habitat home
To qualify for a Habitat home, family income has to be between 35% and 80% of the area’s median income — $75,200 per year for a family of four at the top of that range.
Partner families have to work at least 250 hours, per adult, building their home or doing other work for the organization. They then buy the home at a zero-interest mortgage, originated by the local Habitat affiliate, to pay off the construction costs.
Approximately 20% of local Habitat for Humanity homes are owned by Eagle County Schools employees, Howard said.
Since 1995, when the local Habit for Humanity affiliate was founded, it has built 79 units. More than 250 local kids live in those Habitat homes.
In August, Habitat for Humanity finished the last of its 40 homes in Gypsum’s Stratton Flats neighborhood.
Six IK Bar homes will be finished next year and six more in 2021.
We all know Eagle County is short on workforce housing. But a recent report shows there are still barriers to building.