Local Habitat for Humanity chapter marks 40th home built as it celebrates move-in day with two Gervais families on Saturday

by: BETH FAULHABER - Antonia Cruz and her husband Gerardo Goveche celebrate receiving the keys to their new home in Gervais.Antonia Cruz could not wait to move from the cramped two-bedroom apartment she shared with her husband, Gerardo Goveche, and their two children and into the home newly renovated by Habitat for Humanity. With another baby due soon, her family needed more space and a place to call their own.

North Willamette Valley Habitat for Humanity dedicated two homes in Gervais Saturday helping two local families in need become homeowners. Cruz and her family plannedby: BETH FAULHABER - The Snegirev family poses in front of their house with Habitat staff LouJean Fobert and Tom Mason (left and second from left). to start moving into their renovated home as soon as the dedication ceremony concluded. The seven-member Snegirev family also received keys to their new home during Saturday’s dedication ceremony.

“I’m so happy because the privacy that we will have is totally different than living in an apartment,” Cruz said. “And my kids will have their own backyard were they can play.”

Cruz said she heard about the Habitat program from her brother who had partnered with Habitat years earlier to become a homeowner.

“My brother noticed we were struggling and really encouraged me to apply (to the program),” she said.

Cruz said she is happy she and her husband will be able to stop paying rent and instead apply that money toward owning a home. Cruz and Goveche’s home is a renovation rather than new construction, but with new paint, flooring, cabinets, appliances and trim, not much was left untouched. The house gives the family almost 1100 square feet with three bedrooms and two bathrooms.

Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit housing group, builds all its homes using the “sweat equity” of the future owners along with a volunteer labor force of hammer swingers, tile layers and painters. Using volunteer labor whenever possible helps minimize overall costs. Cruz said during their home’s renovation they had the help of her brother, sister, cousins, parents and church friends all working to complete their home.

“We have a core group of folks who help with the building of the houses,” said Beth Faulhaber, NWV Habitat resource development director. This group is primarily composed of retirees who see the building process through from start to finish. NWV Habitat has completed more than 40 projects in the past 28 years and counted 300 working volunteers last year helping build homes and staffing Habitat’s store, ReStore. ReStore sells donated items of reusable, surplus home improvement goods to the public.

Anfim and Fatinia Snegirev, along with their five children, also partnered with NWV Habitat to build a home. The eight-month building process gave the Snegirevs a new home with four bedrooms, two bathrooms and just more than 1,200 square feet. This proved a much needed upgraded from their last house, which shared a common wall with a barn and had air quality issues and poor insulation.

“While they are modest-sized homes, they are very functional,” Faulhaber said.

Each house is designed by an architect with the individual family’s needs in mind and keeps to the building standards of Habitat for Humanity International.

Faulhaber said NWV Habitat is financed through fundraising, including individual donations and grants. Through their fundraising efforts and the volunteer labor crews, Habitat is able to offer zero-percent loans to qualified applicants. This particular project also had help through Wells Fargo Bank which gave a monetary donation and had employees assist with the build, Faulhaber added.

“I am so happy and I’m so grateful,” Cruz said. “Habitat has wonderful volunteers and a wonderful staff. They helped us all the way.”

NWV habitat’s newest program, called ReHabitat, focuses on home repairs rather than new construction. The cost of repairs is kept low by using donated supplies and volunteer labor whenever possible.

“It’s a home repair loan program,” Faulhaber said. “For folks who already own a home but have some issues with their home and need a new roof or a wheelchair accessible ramp or things like that, they can apply. There is a qualifying process and we can partner with them for those repairs.” The ReHabitat program is also a zero-percent loan program.

It was 1986 when Ivo Bauman founded the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity. North Willamette Valley Habitat was the second of Oregon’s 33 Habitat affiliates. Habitat for Humanity is both a national and international charity dedicated to providing low-cost housing to families in need. Saturday marked the 40th home built by NWV Habitat and one of the first homes renovated by the organization.

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