By IAN MUNRO
Daily News-Record 9/9/19
HARRISONBURG — Families and Central Valley Habitat for Humanity workers took part in a ceremonial groundbreaking to mark the beginning of the end of the group’s work on Roberts Court in Harrisonburg on Sunday afternoon.
The building was already on its way to completion before the ceremonial groundbreaking could commence and David Wenger, the executive director of Central Valley Habitat for Humanity, says that’s a good sign.
“That means your building process is moving forward and moving along,” he said.
The future homeowners are Norma Flores, who has two children, and Cindy Hernandez, who has three children.
Both Flores and Hernandez expressed their gratitude to volunteers and partners at the ceremony.
“I say only thank you everybody,” Flores said.
Hernandez has lived her whole life in Harrisonburg and has found it difficult to find a house with more than two bedrooms in her price range as a single mother.
Harrisonburg and Rockingham County both exemplify a national shortage of houses available under $250,000.
Inventory levels of all housing in the city and county have fallen by 22% over the past year alone, when comparing July 2019 to July 2018, according to data from www.HarrisonburgHousingToday.com.
Hernandez and Flores will live in a duplex on a plot of land Central Valley Habitat for Humanity purchased several years ago in the city. Next to the Hernandez and Flores homes are two other duplexes that Habitat for Humanity has built.
Two homes on Kelly Street and one in Timberville are also being built in tandem by Central Valley Habitat.
The Habitat for Humanity partnership process for home ownership is “slightly complicated,” Wenger said.
The families buy the houses at a 0% mortgage rate and are financed through Central Valley Habitat. Costs of the home are kept down by the families’ own “sweat equity” and the work of other volunteers.
“Some of the strongest folks in the partnership are the families,” Wenger said.
Sweat equity refers to the value one adds to something through hard work.
“Each family that partners with us knows they’re going to spend at least 200 hours per adult, at least 100 on construction and [another] 100 is a mixture of classes on home ownership,” Wenger said.
Wenger expects the construction on the new Roberts Court to be completed by early 2020.
“We have plans starting for our next five builds,” he said.
Of the new planned homes, one is a duplex in Broadway, another is a single-family home in Dayton and two are planned on Virginia Avenue.
Central Valley Habitat for Humanity is looking for sponsors and volunteers on the forthcoming projects.
“We hope people will get involved with us,” Wenger said.