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Habitat for Humanity – Another house becomes a home

Habitat for Humanity of Ravalli County Board President David Haywood welcomed the Ballas family to their new home at an open house celebration held last week. This will be the tenth Habitat home in Ravalli County. Michael Howell photo.

By Michael Howell

Last Friday, Habitat for Humanity of Ravalli County hosted an open house celebration at the recently constructed home of the Ballas family in Stevensville. Christopher and Sharayah Ballas and their children, 5-year-old Kara and 2-year-old Alanna, are as excited as can be about the purchase of their new home. According to Christopher, the deal is set for closing on February 8.

The thirty-year mortgage was made possible by the Ravalli County Habitat for Humanity. Using volunteer labor, including at least 500 hours from the prospective homeowner, efficient building methods, modest house sizes and no-profit loans, the organization makes it affordable for low-income families to purchase Habitat houses. The Ballas’ new home, located in the Twin Creeks subdivision in Stevensville, is the tenth house to be built and sold by the organization since its inception and the fourth to be built in Stevensville.

Jordan Silva, the new Executive Director of Ravalli County Habitat for Humanity, told the Ballas family and the many volunteers and friends who gathered for the open house that the organization’s involvement was not over. He mentioned his experience in the military serving as a combat life saver trying to keep people alive during that “golden hour” before intensive medical help can be provided. He said that kind of short-term help was invaluable, but that Habitat for Humanity was in it for the long haul. He said their job doesn’t end at the signing of the closing papers; they are still on call and ready to help the Ballases in any way possible down the road because the organization is involved in “more than building houses, we are into building families.”

Bill Goslin, who serves on Habitat’s Family Selection Committee, spoke about the selection process to a large group packed into the newly finished garage, which Goslin noted was probably “the cleanest, neatest garage in the whole Bitterroot valley.”

“Not for long,” said Sharayah Ballas in a confident tone.

According to Goslin, to qualify for a Habitat house loan the family must have a true need, have the ability to make the mortgage payments, and be willing to partner in the construction work. He said the Ballas family had put in over 600 hours, first on the previous Habitat house that was still in the construction phase and then on their own. They also worked in the organization’s Resale Store, which is located at 131 Old Corvallis Road in Hamilton. They will make a small down payment of $250, and pay for one year of insurance costs, and start their monthly payments on the low-interest mortgage after closing next week.

Habitat board president David Haywood noted that there were many more volunteer hours put into the house than what the family could muster and all those volunteers make the project possible.

“Without our donors, without cash donations and without the many in-kind donations of labor, we could not do this,” said Haywood. He said the organization’s goal was to do two houses a year in the valley, but they were running short on land. Right now, they have two sites in Darby and one in Hamilton and work on the next project in Darby is already underway.

“I just want to say thank you to all the volunteers,” said the new homeowner, Christopher Ballas. “I want you to know how much I appreciate what you’ve done.”

Anyone seeking more information about Habitat for Humanity can reach Jordan Silva at 375-1926.

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