Farmington Habitat for Humanity chapter acquires lots in Aztec neighborhood
Spokeswoman says property purchased at significant discount
FARMINGTON — The generosity of an anonymous landowner has allowed the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity to acquire three lots in an Aztec neighborhood at a fraction of their market value.
The quarter-acre lots are located on Zia Street east of Aztec High School, and they were purchased in January by the Tres Rios chapter of the nonprofit organization that builds affordable homes for low-income families.
Hope Tyler, the Tres Rios chapter public relations director, said the properties were made available to the Christian housing ministry at a significant discount. She described the transactions as essentially a donation by the seller.
"We look and we've been looking for a couple of years now for property owners who want to take advantage of tax credits when you sell to a nonprofit," she said. "But even with that, this kind of discount is not normal."
Having the three lots available will provide the Tres Rios chapter with plenty of opportunities for future construction, according to volunteer Frank Hayes, who recently rotated off the organization's board of directors after many years of service.
Tyler said it costs the Habitat chapter between $130,000 and $140,000 to build a new home, depending on the size of the family and the structure, and each home takes eight to nine months to construct. It can be a year between the time Habitat finishes one home and starts another, so the addition of the Aztec lots to the organization's property holdings means the group is well stocked with lots into the 2020s.
The three lots already have utilities run to the property line, a factor that will make home construction much easier, according to the organization. And they are located in a hilly neighborhood with lots of trees, giving them plenty of visual appeal.
The Tres Rios chapter was founded approximately 40 years ago and reorganized in the early 1980s. It has built 10 homes in that time and is accepting applications for its 11th home that will be built on a lot in Flora Vista.
Funding for the homes comes from transactions at the Habitat Store at 1915 E. Murray Drive in Farmington, as well as private donations and community grants. The organization also recently received an $11,900 donation from the Navajo Transitional Energy Company.
The Tres Rios chapter held a public meeting in January to encourage needy families to apply. Tyler said 39 people attended, and six of them wound up submitting applications to the program. That is indicative of the local need for Habitat's services, she said, explaining that the organization specifically targets low-income families living in housing that is overcrowded, unsafe or unsanitary.
"There are way too many people in San Juan County living in housing that is inadequate," she said.
Nevertheless, the organization cannot afford to give away homes, she said, referring to Habitat's operating plan, which requires program participants to put in "sweat equity" in the construction of a home. Each adult 18 or older in the family must we willing to work on the house for 200 hours over a six-month period, according to the group's website.
There are various other requirements, as well, including participation in Habitat budgeting, home repair and maintenance programs.
Those approved for the program are sold a home at cost, with monthly payments running approximately $600. Tyler said participants play a role in the selection of specific features of each home.
"They get to choose certain things about the home," she said. "We let them choose light fixtures, counter tops and paints. We let them have some say. Our last homeowner actually got very involved in the process and wound up with a home that was very customized."
The construction of the next Habitat home will get underway later this month, Tyler said, which means it likely will be completed around the holidays.
As always, the organization welcomes donations and volunteer help. You need not be handy with a hammer to take a role in building a Habitat home, Tyler said.
"You can have zero experience," she said. "You just need to have a willing heart."
To learn more about Tres Rios Habitat for Humanity, visit tresrioshabitat.com.
Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.