Raising the Roof with Volunteers

7/15/2021

When two new families take possession of their new Habitat for Humanity homes this fall, they can thank nine members of an Americorps team for a lot of the work. Sponsored by Happy Pappy's Pizza and Wings and Whole Health Family Medicine Clinic

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Five new families will enjoy the benefits of first time home ownership this year, thanks in part to a nine member team of AmeriCorps volunteers. You're watching the Local News Network brought to you by Happy Pappy's Pizza and Wings and Whole Health Family Medicine. I'm Wendy Graham Settle. Despite the challenges of the pandemic with its labor shortages, rising lumber prices, and social distancing regulations, Habitat for Humanity and La Plata County will complete two new homes and renovate three more this construction season, thanks in part to more than 1,800 man hours of free labor provided by an AmeriCorps team of young adults serving in the National Civilian Community Corps program. The nine young adults, ranging in age from 18 to 26, spent five weeks on Habitat projects in Durango, saving the nonprofit housing agency tens of thousands of dollars in labor costs.

Our framing, if I had had a subcontractor do this, we're looking at 17, $25,000 out the door for that framing crew. So we usually plan AmeriCorps to come during the framing stage, which can reduce all of that labor cost for us. And right now, our budget increased significantly with lumber cost and therefore, you know, cutting those costs, it's with over 6,000 volunteer hours a year, this would be very hard for us to accomplish without the manpower of AmeriCorps. So we're grateful for them.

The team came to Durango after working with Girl Scouts in Oklahoma, another Habitat project in Wichita, Kansas, and vaccination clinics in New York City. AmeriCorps covers food and travel expenses, but volunteers donate their labor as part of their national service. Abigail Creighton, an AmeriCorps volunteer from New York state, said the experience changed her life in more ways than one.

We live, eat, work together. So it's taught me a lot about being able to communicate better, I guess. And then just like some basic construction skills. I don't think any of us really had any construction experience before this. And now we know so much. We can operate the power tools great now. I feel like I can at least.

Habitat Executive Director, Rachel Taylor-Saghie, says the agency typically receives 6,600 hours in volunteer labor in a year. So the 1,800 hours that AmeriCorps volunteers contributed this past June represents a sizeable chunk of time. When Local News visited the construction site in late June, other volunteers on the job included the La Plata County Planning and Building Department and members of Hammers Club, a group of retirees who help on Habitat builds. Taylor-Saghie said the need for attainable home ownership continues to grow in La Plata County with 71% of the workforce falling within Habitat income guidelines. To qualify for a Habitat home, an individual cannot earn more than $44,000 a year. And a family of four cannot have an annual household income of greater than $60,000 a year. Habitat homeowners pay no more than 30% of their gross income for the mortgage. Although Habitat homes are deed restricted, homeowners can reap some of the equity they have in their property. If you'd like to volunteer for a Habitat build or apply for home ownership, visit the nonprofit's website at habitatlaplata.org. Thanks for watching this edition of the Local News Network. I'm Wendy Graham Settle.

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