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>  News Releases >   2000 >   September

Dartmouth, Upper Valley groups work together on "Habitat" house

Posted 09/15/00

The Upper Valley Habitat for Humanity Affiliate and Dartmouth College Habitat for Humanity Student Chapter have joined forces in a recently launched Habitat Partnership Project.

The Dartmouth Habitat for Humanity Student Chapter, in partnership with the Upper Valley Habitat for Hunanity Affiliate and local community activist Lilla McLane Bradley, have raised $56,000 towards the Partnership Project House. Originally, Bradley approached the two organizations, which work together year- round, about building a Habitat home in her hometown of Hanover. After a year of research and discussions, it was determined that financial challenges ruled out the building of affordable housing for a financially challenged family in Hanover. A site was identified and purchased in Lebanon, New Hampshire, for the Partnership site, and construction begins this month.

The homeowner family for the Partnership home currently lives elsewhere in Lebanon. The father and his three children, two sons and a daughter, live in a two-bedroom apartment on the second floor of the building where the father works. This housing arrangement is temporary. The father's employer offered the family the space when they had to move from their previous housing. The living room in the apartment is used for the daughter's bedroom; the father and his sons occupy the two bedrooms. There is no cooking stove; the family uses a Coleman stove for that purpose. A 20-pound tank of propane, which is kept on the floor, is used for fuel. The apartment is very small and inadequate for a family of four. The family needs stability and adequate housing.

The Upper Valley Habitat for Humanity Affiliate, which builds in New Hampshire and Vermont, has built 12 homes and has "rehabbed" three mobile homes in the past 12 years. Habitat for Humanity International is a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing ministry. HFHI seeks to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness from the world and to make decent shelter a matter of conscience and action. Habitat has built more than 85,000 houses around the world, providing more than 425,000 people in more than 2,000 communities with safe, decent, affordable shelter. HFHI was founded in 1976 by Millard Fuller and his wife, Linda.

Houses are built using as much volunteer labor and donated materials as possible. A selected family agrees to put in at least 500 hours of work on their future home. It is then sold to the family at no profit and no interest. The actual cost of the house is repaid over a fixed period, usually 20 years, and the mortgage payments are "recycled" to build more houses. Including taxes and insurance, the monthly payment is usually much less than the family has been paying in rent for inadequate housing.

Families in need of decent shelter apply to local Habitat affiliates. The affiliate' s family selection committee chooses homeowners based on their level of need, their willingness to become partners in the program and their ability to repay the no-interest loan. Every affiliate follows a nondiscriminatory policy of family selection.

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