Habitat for Humanity in Saratoga Springs to build second home

By Wendy Liberatore

Read the full article here: Times Union:  Nonprofit to build second residence for low-income family in Saratoga Springs

Citing the need for more affordable housing in Saratoga Springs, Habitat for Humanity broke ground Thursday on a second home in the Spa City.

The nonprofit that builds homes for low-income working families is erecting, with volunteer labor and donated materials, a two-story townhouse at 26 Cherry St. The home, situated on property that was given to Habitat by the city, should be ready for occupancy in the spring.

“Affordable housing is an issue everywhere,” said Tammy DiCara, president of the board of directors for Northern Saratoga, Warren and Washington Counties Habitat for Humanity. “But in Saratoga, it can mean being priced out of your own neighborhood. It can be difficult for families to stay in the place where they grew up and want to raise their children.”

Habitat builds its homes with the help of such organizations as Saratoga Builders and Rebuilding Together Saratoga County. Help also came from Thrivent Financial Builds, which contributed $70,000 toward its construction. Homes are built and sold at cost to families who are willing to invest their own sweat equity into the project. Once the house is built and the family moves in, Habitat holds the mortgage — for 30 years at 0 percent.

For the first Habitat home built in the city, at 195 Division St., that means a mortgage, with insurance and escrow rolled in, of $800 a month. One unit in the two-family townhouse, selling at estimated $130,000, will have a similar payment.

“We want the families to be successful homeowners,” said Jeff Clark, executive director for the local Habitat. “We want the insurance to be paid, the taxes to be paid. We work very closely with the families to keep them pointed in the right direction.”

Saratoga Springs Mayor Joanne Yepsen said that donating the properties to Habitat allows the city to reclaim the taxes on derelict properties that are off the rolls. But more importantly, she said, the lack of affordable housing is something the city is keenly aware of and is striving to remedy.

“We want to have different price points for people who want to live in Saratoga Springs because too many people are outpricing themselves here,” said Yepsen. “I am proud and happy that the city can have this partnership with Habitat for Humanity and the other organizations and businesses because there is a great need.”