Habitat prepares to build House #19

Oct 1, 2022–Habitat is preparing to build House # 19. Construction should begin in December. The selected family will invest “sweat equity” working with Habitat volunteers to bring their dream come true of owning an affordable home.

The Board of Directors hosted Mr. Vince Michel, Fredericksburg’s City/County Housing Coordinator, during its regularly scheduled meeting to learn more about the challenges in providing affordable housing to working families in our community. The price of land and building materials in addition to the limited availability of subcontractors has greatly increased the cost of providing homes. Several long-term alternatives such as Community Land Trusts, Public Facility Corporations, and locally developed affordable housing neighborhoods to decrease total costs were discussed.

House #15: It was a blessing

House #15: Josh and Roxanne Perez

House #15: Josh and Roxanne Perez

June 2020–Five years after Josh and Roxanne Perez and their three children moved into their new Habitat home, how do they like it?

“I love it,” Josh said. “The kids love it. We have our own space, compared to what we were living in. It was a blessing.”

Josh works as Head Chef at K-Bobs, while Roxanne works the night shift at James Avery manufacturing facility in Comfort.

Before learning they were eligible for House #15 built by Habitat for Humanity of Greater Fredericksburg, the couple were living in a trailer house. While they were grateful to have a place, after a year it started having problems. It got so back they had to go with out A/C due to electrical issues. They didn’t know what to do.

Then Josh saw a notice for applying for a Habitat home at the laundromat. They decided to try, going to a meeting three nights later, filling out the paperwork, and sending it off. Josh remembers being with his family at the river when he got the call.

“They said, you got the house! I said, what house? When they told us, we were like, oh, man. It was great and it has been great!”

The biggest change is that everything works.

“It made a big difference in all of our lives,” said Josh, who is Head Chef at K-Bobs, where he has worked for 10 years. “I was always having to come home and fix something. I looked for extra work on the side to be able to fix an issue. So this is a lot easier for me.”

His reaction is shared by the family.

“The kids love it because they have their own space. The house is nice and big, we live by a creek, and they have their own place to play.”

He has become an evangelist, telling others about the good works of Habitat. In fact their most recent house will soon be owned by Josh’s sister and brother-in-law.

“It is a great thing. It was a blessing.”

House #17: A different story; a different life

House #17: David & Mariana Montoya

House #17: David & Mariana Montoya

“It’s a blessing.”

Those are the words David Montoya said over and over when asked how being in a new home changed his life. David, his wife Mariana, and their 4-year-old daughter have lived in House #17 for a year and a half.

Before moving in, the Montoyas lived in a small family rental. Owning versus renting has made positive impact on their life.

“There are a lot of good things about it,” David said. “The payments we make are accessible. You don’t have to deal with paying rent, or living with other people. We went through that. Now that we own our own house it’s a different story; it’s a different life.”

David has worked with a large retailer since 2015, and Mariana cleans houses for select clients.

“The people were very kind to us. It has been a blessing for us to own this house.”

David hopes the blessing his family has experienced will spread to others helping Habitat for Humanity of Greater Fredericksburg.

“I would encourage people to donate and help the organization,” he said. “They are going to see the faces of the people when they get a house, it is a huge thing–you are happy forever. Because it is also a blessing for them because they are going to be helping others.”

Good to have your own home

Jose and Rose Sanchez family, House #16

House #16, Jose and Rose Sanchez

June 2020–Even three years after moving into their new Habitat home, it still feels new to Jose and Rose Sanchez. Now when they get off work, they both go home to a house they own. This is a big change–prior to getting on Habitat for Humanity of Greater Fredericksburg’s list, the family rented a two-bedroom, one-bath apartment.

“It is really good to have your own home,” said Jose Sanchez, who moved into House#16 with his wife, Rose, and their three kids. “It’s been three years and it still feels like our new home. Every day we can’t believe we have a home for ourselves and our kids. The kids were so excited to be able to have a back yard to play in. It changed our lives completely.”

Josh has been a machinist at Keger Industries for five years; Rose has worked as a Medical Assistant at Fredericksburg Clinic for 15 years.

Josh is especially grateful for the work done by volunteers, many who don’t even live in the state, in putting their home up.

“It’s a true blessing. The Care-A-Vanners were awesome. We were able to work with them to complete our hours. To be able to be a part of that was an awesome journey. They are amazing people doing an amazing job. They have helped so many families.”

Prospective Habitat homeowners are required to contribute 300 hours of work, so Josh and Rose were on the site on weekends, elbow to elbow with volunteers. So he is eager to dispel the myths about what it takes to get into a home.

“We did a lot of physical work. It’s not free. I hate when people say that. We worked hard for this, and we still work hard for what we have.

Josh emphasizes that anyone can take advantage of this opportunity. He appreciates the people and businesses that make it possible.

“The people that support Habitat are wonderful people. We wish more people were able to donate to Habitat.”

The Sanchez family is one of four Habitat homeowners in their neighborhood.

“This is a good community. Everybody is so blessed and it’s a blessing for Habitat. We appreciate them so much.”

Having a house changed our lives

The Castaneda family on the steps of their new home, 2012.

House #14, Christopher and Yecenia Castaneda

June 2020–In 2012, Christopher Castaneda had just gotten out of school after earning his Associate’s degree in Diesel Mechanics at Texas State Technical College. He was living in a small, one-bedroom house with his wife, Yecenia, and three children, when he got the call from Habitat for Humanity of Greater Fredericksburg.

“Having a house changed our lives,” said Castaneda. “It gave us a roof over our heads. My daughters were my biggest concern. I wanted more space for them to grow up in.”

Castaneda now works for Pike Electric as a lineman, commuting to Austin daily. Yecenia just paused her job as a dental assistant in order to be at home with the couple’s newborn.

While living in their own home is a dream, Castaneda still needs to dispel misconceptions he hears from family and friends.

“People think we got a free house,” Castaneda said. “I had to explain that Habitat is an organization that helps families get a foot on the ground, or who are in a bad situation. We still have to pay the mortgage!”

And the taxes and insurance and maintenance. And any improvements, such as converting the “big dirt pit” into a grassy lawn complete with privacy fence for his children (“it’s pretty now”).

“My wife and I have been together for 16 years, ever since high school. We are still together, and I am very grateful. We have been up and down like all other families, but it helped us quite a bit to get this house. It made our family a whole unit, instead of worrying about a roof over our heads.”

They are both grateful for the support they received from the entire community.

“The people that did the building–I appreciate all the volunteer work, and the loving care that they put into the house. I wish they got more appreciation, because they busted their butts!”

It looks like the building may not be completed. With the arrival of their fourth child, the Castanedas are looking at converting closet space into another bedroom.

“We’re running out of space!”

Seeking landscaping help

For Release: April 27, 2020

Contact: Linda Warriner, fbghabitat.execdir@gmail.com, 713-705-0836

As House #18 nears completion by Habitat for Humanity of Greater Fredericksburg, the board is calling for local volunteers to assist with landscaping.

“We will need help in the next few weeks with landscaping,” said Chad Faucheux, President of the Board. “We are real close to finishing up this house, although we have had to delay our opening due to safety considerations. But we want to keep it moving forward.”

Because of restrictions on gathering due to the threat of Covid-19, Care-A-Vanners are no longer traveling and working on Habitat homes. The local affiliate is depending on local volunteers and some professionals to complete work. At this time they are specifically looking for individuals to assist with laying sod, planting, and mulching. Volunteers are asked to be able to work a 4-hour shift.

The group also welcomes donations of any landscaping materials, as well as financial contributions.

“Because of the situation, we have had to hire out more of the work to be done, such as painting,” Faucheux said. “That means more funds out of our budget. But our goal is to get the house done and the family moved in.”

The group is following all safety guidelines to keep workers safe, including distancing, limiting the number of workers at any one time, and sanitizing equipment. Anyone interested in learning more about working with or donating to Habitat can contact the organization at www.fbghabitat.org, 713-705-0836, or fbghabitat.execdir@gmail.com.

Seeking local volunteers to complete house

Mar 23, 2020

Pointing out the work remaining to be done, Dick Aide, Volunteer Supervisor, leads Fredericksburg Habitat board members and staff through House #18. With the suspension of construction help from RV Care-A-Vanners, the nonprofit is seeking local volunteers to help out. Photos by Phil Houseal

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Fredericksburg is seeking local volunteers to help complete House #18.

Due to the effects of COVID-19 guidelines, all support from the scheduled Care-A-Vanner working groups has been suspended until further notice. Care-A-Vanners are volunteers organized through the Habitat International who travel the country helping local chapters with house builds.

Even with the interrupted schedule, the house under construction will continue to be built out using local volunteers and help from the family, according to Chad Faucheux, President of the Board. The group is seeking people with any skill set, especially painters at this time.

“We hope some local volunteers can step up to help us get to the finish line,” Faucheux said. “A family is waiting to move in–they have demonstrated their need for housing and they have been working alongside us.”

Dick Aid shows the finishing touches to Chad Faucheux, President, and Linda Warriner, Executive Secretary.

To stay in line with Center for Disease Control guidelines, organizers are spacing out the work so there will be smaller groups of two to three people working on the property at any given time. They are also practicing prescribed precautions regarding sanitizing and social distancing.

“Since our anticipated building help has been suspended, this is an opportunity for other people to get involved with our local Habitat chapter,” Faucheux said. “We know local volunteers will help complete this house for this family.” Anyone interested in learning more about working with Habitat can contact the organization at www.fbghabitat.org, 713-705-0836, or fbghabitat.execdir@gmail.com.

Fredericksburg Habitat professionalizing mortgage services

Effective January 1, 2020, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Fredericksburg is now using the services of HabTex Mortgage to handle mortgage services for houses built in Gillespie County.

This move will “professionalize the process” that has in the past been handled locally by volunteers.

“Using HabTex will make the process more consistent over time,” said Dr. Leonard Bentch, the board member who helped set up the arrangement. “It will also take a huge burden of time and energy off of board members, so they can concentrate on building homes for deserving, working families in our community.”

HabTex will also help the local chapter apply for interest-free loans provided through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

For local Habitat homeowners, the process will be seamless and transparent, with the only change being that payments will be sent to a different address.

This is one of several initiatives the local group is putting in place to address the national organization’s rising compliance standards. They have also hired an Executive Secretary, and are looking at outsourcing other services such as accounting and marketing. Selection of qualifying families has always been outsourced as required by Habitat for Humanity policy.

“The professional compliance requirements of Habitat affiliates have become more complex,” Bentch noted. “We are trying to outsource more of that type of specialized work as the requirements become more burdensome.”

The local chapter of Habitat for Humanity was organized in 1995, and has plans to complete its 18th and 19th homes in 2020. Habitat for Humanity is an international organization where homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage. The office can be contacted at 713-705-0836, www.fbghabitat.org, or fbghabitat.execdir@gmail.com. Mailing address is P.O. Box 2012, Fredericksburg, Texas 78624.