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Two grateful and happy families are living in new homes this week thanks to the efforts of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Newburgh, the Newburgh Community Land Bank, and the Builders Association of the Hudson Valley. The biennial Builders Blitz in Newburgh, NY, was part of a nationwide effort by approximately 100 Habitat affiliates to build and renovate more than 200 houses in communities throughout the United States from Monday, June 4 to Friday, June 8.
Nearly 100 local contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, donors and hundreds of individual volunteers supported building the two homes on Chambers Street, in a blighted section of historic Newburgh; volunteers from AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps also participated. The Santiago family and the Cordero-Valencia family received keys to the homes during an emotional dedication ceremony on Saturday, June 9.
Habitat’s Newburgh affiliate was founded in October, 1999 and is one of 1,500 local affiliates of Habitat for Humanity International. Executive Director Cathy Collins points out, “To date, we have completed 55 decent and affordable homes in one of the most distressed urban areas in the United States and the largest single historical district in New York State.” The Builders Blitz brings that total to 57.
Through the hard work of many dedicated volunteers and generous support, boarded-up houses have been rehabilitated, brown fields have been cleaned up, and empty lots have been completely transformed. Brick by brick and house by house, Habitat Newburgh has made substantial strides in the City of Newburgh to address the severe housing crisis and break the destructive cycle that persists with poverty housing by providing a ‘hand up’ to hardworking families in overcrowded, substandard dwellings.
“To date, 65 families—205 children and 100 adults—earning between 25 to 50% of the area median income have demonstrated a willingness to partner with Habitat Newburgh by investing sweat equity into the construction of our homes, participating in required homeowner education classes, and signing a mortgage,” Collins adds. “Additionally, our home-building efforts have returned nearly $9 million to the assessed property values of the City of Newburgh.”
“The Home Builders Blitz would not be possible without the tireless effort of the Builders Association of the Hudson Valley,” Collins remarks. “It has been inspiring to witness the dedication and passion of the volunteer leadership team, which includes Angelo Ferrante of Hudson Valley Contracting Group, the volunteer leader of the Blitz Build week; Ian Rieger of Rieger Homes, Inc., volunteer leader of the pre-build portion of the project; volunteer house captain Andy Stahl of Hearthstone, who led the Extreme Makeover Home Edition project in Orange County; and volunteer house captain Bob Colucci of Ultimate Homes. The IBEW Local 363 has worked on nearly every Habitat Newburgh home built and this is their third Builder’s Blitz. The newly formed Newburgh Community Land Bank was also a partner in the project.”
Collins points out that the Blitz “allows us to serve our families quicker since it often can take upwards of 9 to 12 months for us to complete a house. It also is an opportunity to bring awareness to the work of Habitat Newburgh as well as our other partners, and spotlight the need for affordable housing. In our community, if we built two houses every week, it would take us 17 years to meet the current need.” Habitat plans to participate in another Blitz in 2014.
Contact Habitat for Humanity to see how you can support them in your area and throughout the world.