Habitat nearing final build-out on Silt property | PostIndependent.com

Habitat nearing final build-out on Silt property

Bouncing between roommate situations and crowded conditions living with extended family members will be a thing of the past for the newest Habitat for Humanity Roaring Fork Valley families, who will have their homes dedicated Sunday in Silt.

Completion of the latest duplex on Habitat's land on Ballard Avenue also comes as construction is underway and families are being selected for the last four units to be built on that site.

For single mom Michele "Shelly" Davies, the home she and her 14-year-old son Ayden Arbar will occupy is a chance for a little elbow room.

"We didn't have a house that we owned when I was growing up, and we rented everywhere we went," said Davies, who moved with her family to Carbondale when she was in high school. She graduated from Roaring Fork High School in 2002 and lived in San Diego for several years after Ayden was born.

"We moved back here hoping to get back on our feet, and the plan was always to have roommates because we'd become so adjusted to that life and assumed that's just how it was," she said.

As Ayden got older, though, and Davies landed a good job with the Garfield County Clerk and Recorder's Office, she started looking for a place of their own.

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By then, she was making too much to qualify for other types of subsidized rental or for-purchase affordable housing but wasn't quite making enough to get into a free-market home.

"It's that same gap in the middle that a lot of Roaring Fork Valley families find themselves in," she said. "Habitat gave us the opportunity to be first-time home owners."

Her soon-to-be new neighbors, Adrian Torres and Laura Munoz and their four children, ages 1-1/2 to 13, have been in a similar situation living with family members or getting by in an apartment that was way too small for their family.

As a teenager, Torres had been living with his aunts in New Mexico before an uncle talked him into moving to western Colorado, where he learned to be a landscaper. For the past two years, he has been working for Aspen Tree Service.

With a growing family, he and Munoz decided it was time to look for more space than their two-bedroom apartment in Glenwood Springs afforded. But, like Davies, they were stuck in the middle in terms of financial ability.

Torres learned about Habitat from his aunts who, after he had moved to Colorado, ended up being selected for Habitat homes in Santa Fe.

"It was the best opportunity. It's nice that we're going to get our own house," he said, pouring praise on the local Habitat organization including volunteer coordinator Amy French.

"She was really good about pushing us, and getting people to help on the house," Torres said. "She's been a great help."

French said that Habitat is diligent in its selection process to pick families that not only have a need, but can live up to the financial commitment of home ownership and who understand the requirement that they put a certain amount of "sweat equity" into helping build the house.

"Habitat is not about giving away homes. Everyone is paying for their home and, as we say, it's a hand up, not a hand out," French said, referring to Habitat's motto. "We work together very closely with our families to make sure they can qualify for affordable mortgages."

Currently, those mortgage loans represent what the new homeowners can afford to pay with 28 percent of their incomes, she said.

Davies said she appreciates that Habitat is not only providing quality homes, but the know-how to properly take care of their homes and to be able to keep up with their mortgage payments.

"Habitat really sets people up to be successful home owners and not just, 'here's your house, good luck,' " she said. "I'm so grateful for everything they do behind the scenes, and all the people willing to do the little things to help put a roof over your head."

Following a home dedication ceremony for the Davies and Torres/Munoz families, Habitat will be busy Sunday afternoon interviewing six applicant families for the final four homes on Ballard Avenue in Silt.

The 12 homes in Silt are among 25 Habitat Roaring Fork homes to be built to date over the past two decades, from Rifle to Basalt.

Scott Gilbert, president of the local Habitat organization, said Habitat has additional land on Grand Avenue in Silt to build more homes in the future.

But the major focus after the current Silt homes are completed will be in Basalt, where Habitat has submitted plans to the town for a 27-unit mix of duplexes and triplexes on Roaring Fork School District land behind Basalt High School.

Those homes will be aimed at helping with the need for teacher housing, as well as other workforce needs. Rather than the traditional family selection process, Habitat is considering using a lottery process to assign those homes, Gilbert said.

Last year, Habitat sold six lots at Keator Grove in Carbondale after completing six homes there, with the idea of using the proceeds to move the Basalt project forward.

In addition, Habitat is also preparing to break ground in mid-March for the new, $8 million ReStore, located next to the existing store on Colorado 82 between Glenwood Springs and Carbondale. The ReStore sells used and donated furniture and home accessories, with proceeds going to help fund home-building efforts in the area.

Meet the newest habitat families

Michele Davies and her son, 14-year-old Ayden

Moving to San Diego after graduating from Roaring Fork High School in 2002, Michele worked in entry level positions. In 2011, wanting to provide more for her son, she returned to the valley and found a career for the first time in the Motor Vehicle Division of the Garfield County Clerk and Recorder’s Office. This essential position in our community provides Michele and her son with enough income to get by, but, without Habitat’s assistance, not enough to achieve the goal of home ownership. When they move into their new home in February, it will be the first time they have not lived with family or roommates.

While Michele has struggled financially, Ayden has had his own struggles. For years, he had difficulty in school. Finally, Children’s Hospital diagnosed Ayden’s hearing loss, and, outfitted with hearing aids, he began excelling in school. Currently, Ayden is in Glenwood Springs Middle School’s Pre-Collegiate Program.

“I just want the best for my son,” said Michele, who believes Ayden’s goal to attend college, a dream she once had for herself, will enable him to pursue work that he loves and achieve financial security.

“Habitat is building simple affordable homes, but this is our dream home,” she said. “We feel like our prayers have been answered.”

Adrian Torres, Laura Munoz and their children, Irving, 13, Ailinne, 10, Angie, 4, and Eyden, 1

Adrian was just 17 and living with his aunts in Santa Fe when an uncle invited him to Grand Junction to work with him. Adrian learned the hard work of excavation and fence building.

Meanwhile, newly single mom Laura Munoz decided to leave Juarez, Mexico, and move with her young children to Carbondale where her brother and sister were living.

A few years later Adrian and Laura married and had two children of their own. Today, this family of six live in a two-bedroom apartment with one bathroom in Glenwood Springs. This demonstrates one of Habitat for Humanity’s primary selection criteria of need; families living in substandard, crowded or unaffordable housing.

Adrian knows from experience how a Habitat for Humanity home represents a hand up, not a hand out. Both of his aunts, who welcomed him in Santa Fe years ago, now live in Habitat homes that Adrian helped build. Owning a home and having adequate space for his family are Adrian’s major priorities.

Source: Habitat for Humanity Roaring Fork Valley

Home dedication Ceremony

11:30 a.m., Sunday, Feb. 12

1450 Ballard Ave., Silt