Habitat helps area families own homes

By Kevin Wilson

Randy Lee is working off 500 hours of community service, and he couldn’t be any happier to have the obligation.

Lee, an employee for the city of Portales, was one of several Habitat for Humanity members that spent Saturday morning working on the construction of what will be his new house at 301 E. Kaywood.

The non-profit organization had originally been building the house for another family, but ended up being idle on the construction for three months after that family became unable to meet the mortgage payments.

Along came Lee, who heard about the house through a supervisor.

“They were really happy and I was too,” Lee said of the opportunity to own a house. “It was like it was meant to happen.”

Lee has four children, ranging in age from 5 to 18, who will live in the four-bedroom house.

Much work still needs to be done on the house, which has been a project since last fall. Greg Senn, a member of the local Habitat for Humanity board, said the house is probably about eight weekends from being done. Volunteer workers spent three hours on Saturday applying insulation on the interior and removing debris from the exterior of the house.

Senn said Habitat for Humanity’s national officials theorize houses can be finished in about 12 weekends, but the Roosevelt/Curry County chapter usually takes about 24 weekends to finish a house.

For now, they’re working on Lee’s house, which would be the second Portales house the organization has built. The organization owns several plots of land in the vicinity, and has also acquired a plot in Clovis since combining efforts with Curry County about a year ago.

Incorporating Curry County has helped quite a bit in the process, said organization member Joyce Davis.
“It’s not just the money, it’s the contacts that are so important,” Davis said. “We’ll have more access to people with skills and knowledge that we need.”

Another big help, Davis said, was having Dan Gould of Cannon Air Force Base on the board. Several of Saturday’s workers were volunteers from the base, who heard about the opportunity through Gould.

Davis said the Roosevelt chapter received its official affiliation in November 1999, but did some fund-raising before that point. The organization’s goal is to build a house with their funds and donations from local businesses, and Davis said the latter has always been a big part of the equation.

After the house is finished, an appraiser comes in and sets the price. That price is what the family will pay, in the form of a no-interest loan. Whatever profits come out of the sale will go toward building future houses. Houses usually cost about $35,000 to build and appraise for $40,000 to $50,000.

The organization also gets more members with each house it builds — Lee said he had to agree to 500 hours of service with the organization as a condition for the house.

“That ain’t bad,” Lee said. “Not when you get to get a brand new house.”