New Habitat for Humanity home will be dedicated this weekend in Bloomfield

Organization will not start work on next home until 2022

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times
The Tres Rios Chapter of Habitat for Humanity celebrates the completion of its 12th home, this three-bedroom house in Bloomfield, with a virtual ceremony this weekend.
  • This will be the 12th house the Tres Rios Chapter has completed in San Juan County.
  • The 1,200-square-foot house features three bedrooms and two bathrooms.
  • An increase in the price of building materials has led chapter officials to delay construction of a new home until 2022.

FARMINGTON — While some of its activities and its fundraising have been curtailed by the COVID-19 virus, the Tres Rios Chapter of Habitat for Humanity hasn't let the pandemic get in the way of its primary mission — building affordable housing for low-income people.

The group will celebrate the completion of its latest project with a virtual home dedication ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 27 on its Facebook page. The three-bedroom, two-bathroom, 1,200-square-foot home has been built in northwest Bloomfield for homeowner Jade Torres and her three children.

The Facebook event will include a virtual, room-to-room tour of the home by Tres Rios Chapter spokeswoman Hope Tyler.

Actual attendance at the event will be limited because of COVID-19 restrictions, but Tyler said Habitat board members would be there, as will the members of the Torres family — each of whom will receive a quilt created for them by a Farmington quilters guild. The event will be highlighted by a litany, which Tyler described as a formal dedication ceremony for the home.

Tyler said work on the home was continuing this week with the pouring of a concrete parking pad, the installation of appliances and other activities, but she anticipated the project would be finished or nearly finished by this weekend.

The kitchen of the new home built by the Tres Rios Chapter of Habitat for Humanity in Bloomfield is featured.

Work began in early October and has proceeded smoothly since then, despite a few challenges. Tyler said COVID-19 protocols allowed the organization to keep a crew of 10 people — a mix of paid contractors and volunteers — at the site over the past several months, as they are considered essential workers.

She said recent rain and snowstorms have impacted the construction schedule more than the pandemic has, although illnesses to family members have slowed down the project to some degree.

This will be the 12th house the Tres Rios Chapter has completed in San Juan County, and Tyler explained the organization won't break ground on a new one until next year, although it still has an inventory of four vacant lots. She said the price of building materials has increased substantially over the past several months, and that has led chapter officials to delay construction on their 13th house until the middle of 2022 in the hope that prices will come back down by then.

Jade Torres and another worker install flooring in her new home being built in Bloomfield by the Tres Rios Chapter of Habitat for Humanity.

Those increased prices have come at an especially bad time for the Tres Rios Chapter, Tyler noted, explaining that donations to the organization have declined sharply over the last year.

"Unfortunately, yes, terribly," she said, describing the impact the pandemic has had on fundraising.

Donations from individual donors are down to 15% to 20% of normal, she said, and many of the group's larger donors are focusing their resources on COVID-19 relief efforts, she said.

With the pandemic appearing to subside in New Mexico, Tyler is hopeful many of those donors will resume their contributions to her organization later this year, especially as a new grant cycle begins and the chapter casts a wider regional net of solicitations.

She said the chapter also hopes to increase its visibility through a new partnership with the Farmington-based nonprofit group Capacity Builders Inc. that will provide construction work opportunities for young people.

Volunteers build a retaining wall outside a new home being constructed in Bloomfield by the Tres Rios Chapter of Habitat for Humanity.

Even though the Tres Rios Chapter won't be breaking ground on a new home for the rest of 2021, Tyler said the organization will turn its attention to another aspect of its mission, which focuses on small, exterior home improvement projects. Habitat volunteers are available to help recipients with painting projects, gutter work, repairs or ramp construction.

The program is open to any low-income homeowner, Tyler said, but older people, veterans and disabled people in particular are encouraged to apply.

The Tres Rios Chapter also will offer another free class for would-be homeowners at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 8 at Bethany Christian Church, 711 E. 30th St. in Farmington. Participants will be guided through the process of what it takes to become a homeowner during the class, and free child care will be provided. The event also will be offered in an online format for those who cannot attend in person.

Visit tresrioshabitat.com or call 505-326-5379 for more information.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or measterling@daily-times.com. Support local journalism with a digital subscription.