Talon News - Good Local News

IT TAKES A VILLAGE TO RAISE A HOUSE

Part One

 


Right now the focus is on Hailey Tafoya's house. Young mother of two small children, Hailey worked five years delivering mail, saved up enough money to put herself through beauty school and enough for a down payment on a house. "My grandmother's place was listed on the market. If it didn't sell, I could take over the mortgage she had, but on the last day, it sold," she said. "That was the third strike against me."

The first two strikes were discouraging enough, but this final blow left her with a soon-to-be baby boy and a sixteen-month-old daughter, all living in a one bedroom apartment and paying rent in a building she would never own. Prior to that she had looked everywhere in the Farmington area for larger apartments but prices were too high and some of the landlords were not willing to fix things that needed fixing. She searched for houses, but the mortgage companies felt she did not earn enough money to meet the monthly payments. "That pretty much shut all the doors for me," she said, and then told herself "Don't give up, something good will come along."

In the early days of going to school and building a clientele, money was sparse. Determined to achieve a better way of life, Hailey never lost faith. One of her patrons was Lynn Scott, a Tres Rios Habitat for Humanity (HFH) Board member. She suggested Hailey might submit an application to Habitat.

There is a lot that needs to be done to qualify for a Habitat home. Not everyone gets one. After her need for three bedrooms and lower pricing was proven, her monthly income verified, a credit check completed, references given, length of residency established, and a large packet of other information turned in, Hailey had still more obligations to complete.

Habitat for Humanity requires eligible "partners" to join in HFH programs to learn and practice budgeting, home repair, and maintenance, and to attend HFH home owner meetings. And then there are the two hundred "sweat equity hours." She completes some of these by supplying and serving lunches to the hungry volunteers at the build site. On the first day of the build, Hailey, along with family members and friends, turned out in work clothes ready to do their share.

Frank Hayes, a devoted "A-Team" member and Tres Rios Habitat Board Treasurer, says, "We send out three hundred emails every week advising volunteers which days we will be building." People turn out whenever they can.

Greg Anderson, Construction Supervisor and the men he calls his "A-Team," welcome volunteers on a revolving door basis. It is never certain on any given day how many builders will be on site. For example, last week they were rained and snowed out. The next morning it was so cold and damp that only a handful of people showed up.

"We're probably about ten weeks out," he said, adding "By the time we finish I would say there will be about sixty or more different volunteers."

No matter what the weather brings or how long it takes, Hailey looks forward with eagerness to the day she, her son Oscar, and her daughter Lena can move into their three bedroom house. The house that, one day, she will own.

 

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