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City News

Partnership with Habitat for Humanity brings two new homes to Richfield

Post Date:11/25/2019 2:10 PM

Habitat for humanity - Portland Avenue  

While the outdoor construction season may be winding up until the weather takes a turn for the better, Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity volunteers are hard at work on two projects in Richfield.

Both single-family homes are under construction and will be move-in ready in 2020. Located on the 7300-block of Portland Avenue and the 6300-block of Irving Avenue, the homes are being developed with the Richfield Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) under its New Home Program.  

Richfield has collaborated with Habitat for Humanity for more than 25 years and has constructed 12 new homes during that time. The city contributes towards the building of the new homes by selling the land to the organization at a reduced cost.

“Two of the goals of the New Home program are to support affordable homeownership opportunities and remove substandard homes from Richfield,” explained Celeste McDermott, housing specialist with the City of Richfield. “When we develop a home with Habitat for Humanity we meet both of those goals.”

Investing in Habitat for Humanity projects expands the city’s affordable housing footprint.

“From a development perspective, we know that our one-time investment in the property will go farther when we work with Habitat for Humanity,” said Housing Manager Julie Urban. “The properties are able to remain affordable through either a right of first refusal or as part of a land trust so that Habitat can update the home and make it available again to new buyers.” 

Once finished, the homes will each have three bedrooms and two finished bathrooms, in addition to detached two-car garages. The Irving Avenue home is also being developed with universal design features that will help make it more accessible for future homeowners.

The Habitat for Humanity model promotes affordable homeownership by ensuring that household mortgages remain within the financial means of the buyers and ensuring that those buyers are prepared for homeownership.

“People go through a very comprehensive application process to see if they are eligible for our programs. If they are eligible, they are immediately set up with a financial coach to work towards being mortgage-ready.” asserted Mari Ojeda, project manager for Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity. “Once they are mortgage-ready, those households can enter our applicant pool and then have monthly opportunities to match with a home based on what they can afford and what is available.”

Prior to building the homes, the properties were owned by the HRA and previously held substandard structures.

“The Portland Avenue property, which was purchased by the city in 2018, had a small home on the lot that was far too close to the front property line,” stated housing specialist Kate Aitchison. “There wasn’t a good way to fix the positioning of the house, so the HRA purchased it. The new home and site plan are a much better fit for the property and improve the whole block.”

The property on Irving Avenue had been long-held by the HRA after previous plans for development fell through.

“There were some unique challenges to the size and layout of the Irving Avenue property and Habitat for Humanity found some very creative solutions that made a new home feasible,” said McDermott.

The buyers that will be living in these homes have already begun investing in their future home through on-site, sweat-equity requirements and classes in homeownership. In addition, they are buying a high-quality home, which can lead to fewer issues in the future.

“Our families work hard and are very invested in their new homes,” said Ojeda. “For a lot of them, finding a place to call their own is the ultimate goal. That stability offers a strong foundation for the whole family and can really benefit the entire community as well.”

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