Habitat For Humanity To Hold Kick-off For West Chatham Project

By: Tim Wood

Topics: Housing and homelessness

Volunteers prepare four new Habitat for Humanity of Cape Cod homes for an August wall-raising. A community celebration and volunteer kick-off for the project will be held July 19 at the Unitarian Meetinghouse on Main Street. TIM WOOD PHOTO

CHATHAM – Beyond Main Street, just down the hill from the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen's Alliance headquarters, a dozen men and women worked in the morning sun Tuesday to make the dreams of four families come true.

Foundations for four Habitat for Humanity of Cape Cod homes have been capped, and the volunteers were building retaining walls and preparing for a wall raising scheduled for next month. Next Tuesday, the organization will hold a community celebration and volunteer kick-off for the build at the Unitarian Meetinghouse at 819 Main St.

The four homes overlooking Bearse's Pond will be built on 90,257 square feet of land deeded to Habitat by the Chatham Housing Authority, which purchased the property at a deep discount from developer David Oppenheim. More than three years in the works, the project will result in two three-bedroom and two two-bedroom homes being sold to income qualified buyers.

Two of the homes were set aside for local residents and will go to two families currently living in Chatham, said Dawn Walnut, Habitat for Humanity Cape Cod's volunteer services manager.

Family Programs Manager Mary Ann Mills-Lassiter said 42 families applied for the housing, and 19 – seven of whom were residents, worked in Chatham or had children in school here – were entered into a lottery. Along with income requirements, including the ability to pay a mortgage, qualified applicants had to be capable of contributing 250 hours of sweat equity per adult to the construction of their home. All of the homes are deed restricted as affordable in perpetuity; if they are resold, the buyer must also be income-qualified through Habitat.

At the July 19 event, which begins at 6 p.m., volunteers can sign up for the build and meet the future homeowners. Walnut said volunteers are needed for all aspects of the build, from hammering nails to providing snacks and food and staffing registration tables.

“That's a great job if you want to be on site and see the progress but don't want to get up there and hammer,” she said. While volunteers with building and carpentry skills are always welcome, the nonconstruction jobs are often the hardest to fill, she added. All of the jobs will be outlined at next Tuesday's kick-off.

The Chatham build will formally begin with a wall raising on Saturday, Aug. 13. “That's how we always start,” Walnut said. After a brief ceremony in the morning and the raising of the first wall, the construction begins in earnest. Work is scheduled to happen every Tuesday and Saturday, with Habitat's lead carpenter Desmond McMahon serving as site supervisor.

“We expect the build to take eight to 11 months to complete,” Walnut said.

Along with support from the housing authority, the town contributed community preservation funds for the project. Support also came from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston, the Bennett Family Foundation and the Friends of Chatham Affordable Housing. A number of local churches also support the “Chatham Faith Build.” Construction financing was provided by the Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank and mortgages by the United States Department of Agriculture. Many local businesses and individuals donors also support the project through Habitat.

For more information about volunteering or the July 19 event, contact Walnut at 508-362-3559, extension 16, or at dawn@habitatcapecod.org.