Affordable housing neighborhood expands thanks to donation
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO — Since 1986, Pikes Peak Habitat for Humanity has been providing affordable housing for families across El Paso County. After a large donation from Love in Action, the organization was able to fund the construction of 30 homes near Powers and Galley in Colorado Springs.
Applicants for houses are chosen based on certain criteria, including income and need, and must be able to complete what the organization calls “sweat equity.” The future homeowners must volunteer 200 hours of their time helping with the construction of their own home or a neighbor’s home.
Executive Director and CEO Kris Lewis said she grew up with a need for affordable housing and relates personally to the organization’s cause.
“I did dishes in the bathroom, I cooked on a hot plate, and the rent was about 60% of the pay at the time. So yeah, I get it, and I want to see more and more families experience safe, stable housing,” she said.
Lewis said five families have already moved into the five complete homes.
“I get to see so many kids get stabilized and parent’s stress relieved from them not having to work two and three jobs and only needing one job,” she said. “It’s hugely rewarding and that’s why I love what I do.”
Volunteers spend about eight months constructing one affordable home, complete with energy-efficient installations. Construction Superintendent Eric Wells said volunteers take away handy construction skills, many turning those skills into a career.
“They get to see a house built from the ground up. We have volunteers who show up that are 16 years old. We have volunteers here who are 80 years old and are still doing work,” he said.
Wells said it’s an emotional experience when he gets to hand over the house keys to new homeowners.
“I might look really burly and tough, but it brings tears in my eyes when I am able to turn this house over and then let them turn it into their home,” he said.
Lewis said the organization hopes to select five to six more homeowners for the new houses sometime between August and October.
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