A computer-generated image of Habitat For Humanity Addison County’s new project in Cornwall: an ideal 13-acre rural lot on DeLong Road.
Habitat For Humanity Addison County is starting a new project in Cornwall, thanks to a confluence of events that have provided them with an ideal 13-acre rural lot on DeLong Road, where they plan to build four new homes. The homes will occupy a total of four acres of the parcel and the remainder will be a conserved rural area.
The property became available when a landowner in town requested a major subdivision permit, according to Bruce Byers, the former Chair of the Planning Commission and currently a board member of HFHAC.
“The town had a strong desire for affordable housing,” said Byer.
The developer was granted the permit on the condition that he either donate a building lot, or money, to the town for this purpose. Consequently, $75,000 was placed in an escrow account, to be released to an appropriate 501C3 organization for the construction of affordable homes.
The DeLong Road property happens to be in an area that a recent revision of the town plan had designated for the type cluster housing that uses only a portion of the available land for construction and conserves the rest.
The property cost $80,000, and by that time, the funds in escrow had accumulated interest and amounted to $79,000, leaving HFHAC to foot the bill for only $1,000. That made the cost for each lot an incredibly low $2,500 , a real advantage for the organization, which strives to keep costs as low as possible.
HFHAC board member William Biederman said they are currently looking for four families who qualify for the program. The process begins by advertising in the local media followed by the selection of a family that meets the basic criteria: they must live or work in Addison County, they must be living in unsuitable, overcrowded or unsafe housing; they must be able to pay the no-interest mortgage and they must be willing to partner with Habitat for Humanity. Families are required to provide a modest down payment and provide at least 200 hours of “sweat equity” work per adult by helping with the construction and/or finish work.
Each home is designed specifically for the family who will live in it, taking into consideration such factors as the number of family members and whether there are any specific physical needs, such as handicapped accessibility.
In order to keep the costs down to an affordable range of between $100,000–120,000, the homes are built largely by crews of volunteers. Each house will also be designed and positioned to take advantage of passive solar energy, to help keep heating costs down.
The cluster arrangement of the houses leaves plenty of acreage for recreation and enjoyment. Bruce Byers noted that is is “an unusual set-up and nice” because it includes an added bonus of land and woods for the children to explore and play.
HFHAC hopes to have the first house completed before the winter of 2012. They have already begun to install septic systems and will begin pouring the pads in the spring.
“A lot of people donate a lot of time to make this work,” said Byers “We’ve already built five homes in Addison County.”
Habitat For Humanity Addison County is currently in the midst of a three-year capital campaign to raise $375,000 over three years. The first phase raised $125,000 and Phase II will be launched in November, with Phase III scheduled for November 2012.