North Canaan: Habitat accepting homeownership applications

Habitat for Humanity

NORTH CANANN — Habitat for Humanity of Northwest Connecticut will accept applications from eligible families eager to pursue homeownership in North Canaan through April 11.

The construction of a home on Salisbury Road in North Canaan is preparing to commence, and Habitat, a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing organization, needs to recruit a “partner family” to work alongside Habitat volunteers and skilled tradespersons to see the project to completion.

The mission of Habitat’s Northwest Connecticut affiliate is “to facilitate ownership of simple, but decent and affordable homes for local workforce families who find themselves priced out of the market by the spiral of escalating prices and/or limited income that denies them access to traditional mortgage sources.”

Family composition is irrelevant. To be eligible for a Habitat home, applicants must meet three distinct criteria.

First, they must be facing a pressing need to improve their living conditions. Then, the applicant must also demonstrate a reasonable sense of responsibility for meeting current financial obligations, like rent. Habitat households must commit to partner with Habitat by investing 400 hours of their labor in the construction (200 hours is the amount of hours a partner family must invest for a rehabilitated home). 100 hours must be donated by the actual partner family, but friends and others can help to make the 400 hours a reality, That often means working on the construction of their own, or even someone else’s, Habitat home. But they can also earn such “sweat equity” in other ways, like volunteering to work in Habitat’s fund-raising events and other activities.

“Habitat’s proven formula for home affordability is based on three key factors: first, by keeping land acquisition and construction costs low. Second, by the use of wonderful volunteers who help to build the home and third, by providing interest-free mortgages,” said Bob Whelan, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Northwest Connecticut.

Once construction or rehabilitation is complete, Habitat assumes the role of a lender, making a zero-interest mortgage for a reasonable term that best suits the financial strength of the eligible applicant.

This one-story structure will feature three bedrooms and two baths, with an open kitchen, dining and living area. Many sustainable building practices and features will be incorporated into the home, such as LED lighting, insulation that exceeds code, a high efficiency heating and hot water system as well as a possible rooftop Photovoltaic array. These features help to keep long-term costs to a minimum.

“We’re not just about bricks or mortar, hammer and nails,” said Tracy Atwood, president of Habitat’s Northwest Connecticut affiliate. “We’re really all about making people’s dreams come true. This home is an exceptionally special opportunity for a family who never thought they could afford to own a home in any of the communities we serve.”

Serving housing needs in Sharon, Salisbury, North Canaan, Norfolk, Canaan, Falls Village, Torrington and Cornwall, Habitat — acting both as a builder and a lender— has already enabled 13 families to realize their dream of homeownership.

To request an application package, which can be sent by email (admin@habitatnwct.org), call Whelan at 860-435-4747.

Connecticut Media Group