By Michael Howell
Belia Velasco-Coombes and her children Tejal and Desan grabbed shovels and, with the help of Habitat for Humanity Director Mike Kibler and Stevensville Mayor Gene Mim Mack, broke ground on their new home site at 105 Mission Street in Stevensville.
Habitat for Humanity of Ravalli County is a non-profit organization that has built homes for low income families in the valley since 2005. It has built a home in Darby, a home in Corvallis and two homes in Hamilton.
Once the Board of Directors decided to build in Stevensville and secured the property that will serve for two homes, they began the search for a prospective home buyer. Habit for Humanity does not give homes away. It finds people in need and helps arrange financing to build an energy efficient and affordable home. The enormous amount of donated materials and volunteer time that the organization puts into the projects makes the houses more affordable. The new home owner is also required to put in 500 hours of labor, either on the house building or at the Habit for Humanity Re-Sale Store in Hamilton. Two hundred and fifty of those hours may be donated by any other volunteer but the homeowner must put in at least 250 of those hours.
Finding someone willing and able to take on the mortgage payments took longer this time around than ever before. Board President Don McGourty gave board member Bill Goslin a lot of credit for doggedly pursuing the project and finally landing a client. Goslin expressed appreciation for all the help he got from other board members.
According to Goslin, the family met the three criteria they were looking for, a family with a real need, with the ability to pay on the mortgage, and the willingness to put in a lot of sweat equity.
Local architect Megan Hanson designed the three-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath house. Donations form Turnkey Construction, Western Building Center, Massa Home Center and Donaldson Brothers will help make the dream home a reality.
Velasco-Coombes shed tears of joy at the groundbreaking ceremony. She said that she had seen the designs for the house for the first time that morning and was overwhelmed.
“It’s what every family that doesn’t have one dreams of having,” she said.