A HOME OF THEIR OWN

By Sandi Austin

   “Seeking to put God’s love into action, Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities and hope.”

   That’s the mission statement of St. Vrain Habitat for Humanity (SVHH), the December focus of Heart of Longmont’s Compassion Offering and Christmas Offering.

   According to David Emerson, executive director of SVHH, the local non-profit organization began in 1988 following a presentation at United Church of Christ by the international founder, Millard Fuller. A group of citizens applied for and were approved to have a local affiliate.

   People in the community, local businesses, civic groups, and churches work together to provide affordable housing for low-income families in Longmont and surrounding areas.

   “Right now,” said Emerson, “we are working on two homes in Longmont and will pour the foundation for another three. There’s one in Dacono and several being repaired. In Lyons, six homes will be constructed for flood-impacted families.”

   Emerson added that they merged with Estes Park at the beginning of the year. That organization was being run by volunteers, and it got to the point that they needed a professional staff to help them get things done.

   “Next spring, we will build in Estes Park, and we are selecting families now,” he said. “We have four different sites now for our affiliate. We expect to have active builds in Longmont, Estes Park and the Carbon Valley area at the same time.”

   So, what are the requirements for being a home recipient?

   “There are three,” Emerson explained. “They must demonstrate a need, be willing to partner with sweat equity in their home, and be able to handle the mortgage payments when they’re passed along to them. We’re both a lender and a builder.”

   Emerson went on to say that the potential recipient goes through a three-month process during which SVHH does home visits, budgeting with them, and during which credit and background checks are performed. References are also gathered from landlords and employers. Once the family or individual is approved, they put in 250 hours of sweat equity.

   Another requirement is that the recipient attends financial fitness and home maintenance courses offered through the county.

   “What we do is open up the selection process based on the production we anticipate,” said Emerson. “When there are three homes we will be building, for example, we select candidates ahead of time and do orientation with the goal of selecting up to three. We are an equal opportunity lender and a fair housing lender. A single person household may also quality for a habitat home. It doesn’t mean you have to be a family.”

   Volunteers and donations are important parts in the success of SVHH. Donations can be in the form of financial giving, giving of your time and talents, or donating construction materials. Check out the ways you can help SVHH by visiting their website: www.stvrainhabitat.org.

   “There are good fellowship opportunities enjoyed by our men and women who come out and give of their time. We have everyone from retired individuals to Bible study groups,” said Emerson. “I feel extremely honored to learn that SVHH is a Compassion and Christmas Offering recipient.”