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Habitat for Humanity breaks ground in Whitefield

Habitat for Humanity, Ammonoosuc Region board members Melanie Hamilton, Vice President Chuck McLure, Dave McLure, President Dave Willis, Ron Bolt, Bill Howe, Secretary Lucile Guild and Tom Campbell stand at the new house site at the ground breaking ceremony in Whitefield with soon to be residents, Taylor Brown, Landon Brown, Nina Dupont and dog Bonnie. (Photo by Jonathan Benton) (click for larger version)
July 28, 2010
WHITEFIELD — Site work has been underway for a few weeks, but on Saturday, July 24, Habitat for Humanity's Ammonoosuc Chapter officially broke ground on their latest project. The group is constructing a home off Colby Road in Whitefield for a young family.

Volunteer coordinator and chapter vice president Chuck McLure explained that this is the second house in as many years that Ammonoosuc Habitat is building. Last year, a three-bedroom ranch was built in Littleton.

This home will be built with the same plans and will be purchased by Taylor Brown and Nina Dupont. The couple, who has a toddler and currently lives in Bethlehem, will help construct the house and then take out a no-interest mortgage for the building and land costs. Ammonoosuc Chapter will hold the 30-year mortgage. Mr. McLure said he expects the cost for this 1,070-square foot ranch to be around $100,000. "It really makes it a very affordable house," said his wife Pat McLure of the no-interest long-term mortgage. Mrs. McLure is part of the group's selection committee.

She said that the selection committee hopes to get the word out that these are affordable homes, with mortgage payments including taxes and interest coming in at around $500 to $600 per month. For this build the group received only around eight or nine applications, which were narrowed down to three serious applicants. The chosen family is required to put a certain amount of "sweat equity" into the home, 500 hours to be exact. Included in those 500 hours are not only labor hours, but also classroom hours. Ammonoosuc Chapter requires their new homeowners to attend new homebuyer classes at AHEAD (Affordable Housing Education and Development) so that they are better equipped to manage their finances as new homeowners.

Interestingly, Mrs. McLure noted, the three serious applications for this home were referred to the Habitat application process by AHEAD.

While the family is responsible for many hours of work, community support is also critical, Mr. McLure said. Last year's build in Littleton was completed on time and under-budget and he hopes to accomplish the same feat this year. It was accomplished with about 70 volunteers putting in 2,500 hours of skilled and unskilled labor. This project will need no less.

The three-bedroom home will be stick-built on a slab, with radiant heat. Ammonoosuc Chapter prides themselves on building energy efficient homes and earned an energy star rating on their previous effort.

Habitat for Humanity is a Georgia-based non-profit, ecumenical Christian housing ministry, with independent chapters throughout the U.S. and the world. Mr. McLure explained that each chapter is responsible for raising its own funds locally for the projects it builds. There is no federal funding and they do not receive funding from the main organizaion, although they do receive brand partnerships, like the appliance donations from Whirlpool for refrigerators and stoves, found in every Habitat for Humanity home.

Local partnerships are also an important part of the home-building project. Mr. McLure said that many individuals and businesses have already donated time and labor to clear the land and prepare the site, in addition to pouring the cement slab. In Littleton, more than $25,000 of donated materials and professional labor were received to help with that house, he explained.

Many hands are needed to help with the home — from carpenters, painters and drywall hangers to "go-fers" and everything between — Mr. McLure said. "I'd like to think, not next week, but the week after, we're building," he said during a July 20 interview.

Volunteers are kept apprised of the need from week to week as the project progresses via a weekly email update and most of the volunteer work is coordinated for Thursdays and Saturdays. Anyone who would like more information or to help with the project can call Mr. McLure at 788-2645. Volunteers can be as young as 14 years old.

Ammonoosuc Chapter of Habitat for Humanity encompasses 12 towns, centered around Littleton. Included in their area are, Littleton, Lancaster, Jefferson, Carroll, Bethlehem, Whitefield, Dalton, Franconia, Sugar Hill, Lyman, Monroe, and Lisbon.

Martin Lord Osman
Littleton Chmber
Varney Smith
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