Mission: Possible. How Habitat for Humanity of Grand County is tackling affordable housing | SkyHiNews.com

Mission: Possible. How Habitat for Humanity of Grand County is tackling affordable housing

Martin J. Smith
For the Sky-Hi News

Upcoming HABITAT Events

Jan. 29 — 6-8 p.m. Open house at Maria Archuleta Jones’ new home. Light refreshments and a chance to tour the house and wish Maria and her children well.

Feb. 8 — Starts at 6:30 p.m. Family-friendly bingo at Carver’s in Winter Park. Games run by Winter Park-Fraser Valley Rotary Club to benefit Habitat for Humanity of Grand County. Doors open at 6:30; first game at 7.

March 6 — 7-9 p.m. Habitat’s festive annual “Birds of a Feather” birdhouse-themed fundraiser, featuring an assortment of sweets, savories, adult beverages, music provided by Eagle Wind Sound, and a unique silent auction of beautiful hand-decorated birdhouses created by local artists. Tax-deductible tickets are available in advance. They cost $25 each online at eventbrite.com (search for Birds of a Feather), and are sold at the Granby Visitor Center (516 E. Agate Ave., cash only) and at City Market from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 15 and Feb. 29. Tickets also will be available at the door the night of the event.

Most people in Grand County lament the lack of affordable housing for local residents, but one organization — Habitat for Humanity of Grand County — has been steadily addressing the problem for nearly two decades.

The small-but-dedicated group of volunteers and contractors led by Granby resident and Habitat Board President Steve Morrison has ambitious plans to build at least five homes on adjacent lots at the eastern edge of Hot Sulphur Springs during the next few years.

Westbound drivers on Route 40 can see those homes rising on the right as they enter town, and volunteers are working year round to complete one home each year. They’re guided by contractor George Davis of Maple Street Builders in Hot Sulphur Springs, and managed by Executive Director Jodi Griesch of Granby.

The group’s mission is to make home ownership possible for hard-working members of the Grand County community who otherwise might never get the chance — and who are willing to invest their own sweat equity for the opportunity. Habitat homeowners help build their homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage. The organization already spent the money needed to install electrical and sewer lines, and do the necessary environmental and geological studies on the adjacent lots.

The first completed house at that site, the group’s 11th in the county, is now occupied by Maria Archuleta Jones, a Hot Sulphur native who runs her own cleaning business, and her two youngest children. The team finished that home around Thanksgiving, and she moved in in December.

“Habitat empowered me and gave me the ability to have my own home,” Archuleta Jones said. “It also taught me hard work and humility, and gave me the chance to work together with amazing people who helped me along the way. It’s the gift of a lifetime.”

From her west-side windows Archuleta Jones can watch progress on the adjacent home, being built for — and with the help of — John and Chelsea Barnhill of Granby, who also run a cleaning business and were selected as candidates by the board last summer. The Barnhills, with two young children, have been working alongside the dedicated crew of generous contractors, skilled framers, unskilled lumber and tool toters, lunch providers, and assorted other heaven-sent helper-outers.

“We’re a community of neighbors helping neighbors, in the truest sense of the word,” said Morrison, noting the group finished its first Grand County house in 2001. “On behalf of the county’s two newest homeowners, we’re grateful for everything our community and volunteers do to make a difference in local lives.”

The group is hosting three upcoming events (see sidebar) designed to raise funds and awareness about Habitat’s work in Grand County. For more information, to donate money or materials, or to volunteer with a group that includes both seasoned veterans and eager-to-learn first-timers, call 970-887-9138 or visit http://www.habitatgrandcounty.org.

Editor’s note: Writer Martin J. Smith is a Granby area resident and volunteer and board member of Habitat for Humanity of Grand County.

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