Brooklyn home built by Habitat for Humanity
By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Brooklyn - posted Tue., Sep. 13, 2011
Millie Simone, her daughter, Labecka Wright, and grandson Joseph watched as a crew from Oak Knoll Builders and Central Construction Industries, LLC, hoisted two halves of a modular home onto a new foundation in Brooklyn. By the end of the day, Simone would be able to see the structure of her new home. She would still have to wait for crews to finish all the installation work, and she would have to participate in framing and building the second floor. But the reality of her long-held dream would be there for her to see, thanks to the Northeastern Chapter of Habitat for Humanity.
“It's a dream come true,” Simone said, standing in the corner lot, half of her house hanging by cables, as a 70-ton crane maneuvered it into position. The Dayville resident talked about planting a Japanese maple on the land and putting two rose bushes near the house. She wants sunlight to pour through the windows.
When she paints her rooms, the colors will be bright and cheery. “Granny Smith apple for the kitchen,” she said. She wants lots of plants. “And I'll make people take their shoes off when they come inside,” she said, laughing. “I'm going to work my butt off to keep it nice.”
Habitat's Northeastern Connecticut Chapter Vice President Tonya Brock said Simone was chosen from about 20 applicants. The family selection committee uses a variety of guidelines when making their decision. HUD income guidelines are a primary criterion, but they also look at an applicant's willingness and ability to partner with the organization.
“We look for 350 sweat equity hours,” said Brock. “They have to build or volunteer in some capacity with the organization.” Habitat checks an applicant's credit history and background. They also require that the applicant be able to put a $1,000 down payment on the home.
The Brooklyn home is the first build for the chapter in four years, according to board member Tom Archambault. The project is a year behind schedule because they had to scrap their original plans and come up with a new one, due in part to topographical issues with the lot. The original plans called for a slab foundation, but they realized that a foundation with a smaller “footprint” could save them money in the long run, while allowing them to build a second floor.
“We were very lucky to have Mike Madden, of Oak Knoll Builders, involved in the process,” Brock said. It was a tight lot to begin with. That, coupled with some other issues, made the group look at options. The decision to go with a modular home allowed Habitat to spend less money than the original plan called for.
Simone qualified for a $115,000 mortgage with Habitat. She will make payments to the organization, and that money will go into a build fund, which will be used for future building projects. Archambault said the group tries to keep a cushion in the fund, while building on a regular basis. “The timetable should be every other year,” he said.
For more information on Habitat for Humanity, go to www.habitatofnect.org or call 860-928-7293.