Tres Rios Habitat for Humanity nears completion of 10th home
House is scheduled to be completed later this month
CROUCH MESA — Hailey Tafoya was eager to put her hand print on the wet concrete of what will become the back patio of her home, which is currently under construction by volunteers for the Tres Rios Habitat for Humanity chapter.
Her 2-year-old daughter Lena Tafoya joined her on Friday morning along with her 8-month-old son Oscar Tafoya, who contributed a print of his right foot. Hailey followed by inscribing their initials below their prints.
She said it was amazing when she was selected as this year's recipient of a residence to be constructed by Tres Rios.
"I had been stuck in this position where I didn't feel like I had anywhere to go," Hailey said regarding her attempts to find another place to live.
She currently lives in one bedroom apartment, which has become a tight squeeze with the arrival of Oscar last year.
The mission of Habitat for Humanity is to help people living in substandard housing find affordable housing, Tres Rios treasurer Frank Hayes said.
The organization builds and sells affordable houses for families with low income.
The three-bedroom, two-bathroom, 1,250-square-foot residence is under construction in a cul-de-sac on County Road 33190, and it is the 10th project for the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity.
The most recent house built for a family was constructed just west of the Tafoyas' property.
The Tafoyas' future home was bustling with activity on Friday morning. Hired contractors installed countertops and poured concrete for the residence's back patio and driveway.
Volunteers including Bernard Coffey were installing cabinets, and construction supervisor Greg Anderson was installing shelving into a walk-in closet for the master bedroom.
Hayes credited Anderson for reducing the construction time on the current house and the last one finished in June 2016 from previous projects. Founded in 1991, the local Habitat for Humanity has completed nine homes.
Some of the homes took two to three years to be completed, Hayes said. The Tafoya residence is scheduled to be completed within six months, and the last house was built in eight months.
Not everyone struggling to find affordable housing can qualify for a Habitat for Humanity project. A candidate cannot make more than $29,880 annually, which is about 60 percent of the median family income in San Juan County, Hayes said.
The organization also requires applicants to have a good credit history and live in inadequate housing, Hayes said. Inadequate housing includes residences that are overcrowded and feature poor or unsanitary conditions.
"There are a lot of people that live in substandard housing who don't make more than that but don't meet the particular credit qualifications," Hayes said. "When you find those people, they are really motivated."
Hailey was one of six applicants interviewed by members of a selection committee and one of two finalists to be selected for the residence.
She said she has struggled to find a new place to live since last year with a second child on the way. She did not qualify for a mortgage loan because she didn't make enough money.
The moment that changed everything for Hailey was when a new client strolled into her chair at the Downtown Salon and Spa in Farmington. While Hailey chatted with the woman as she cut her hair, she discovered her client was Lynn Scott, a Tres Rios board member.
Scott told Hailey about the organization and gave her an application to apply. Hailey was selected in the fall and was eager to watch construction start in March.
During a tour of the house with her mother Debra Tafoya and children, Hailey said watching the structure come together has been an emotional journey.
Lena ran into the closets of her bedroom and in Oscar's bedroom, hiding behind closet doors or underneath shelving.
Seeing the reactions of children discover their bedrooms was one of the reasons Anderson loves volunteering.
"It's got so much to deal with the kids," Anderson said. "They love their closets."
When finished, Hayes predicts the house payment, including insurance and taxes, could be $550 to $575 a month on the 30-year mortgage after it is appraised. The mortgage will have no interest.
A house dedication is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Aug. 12. It will give the community a chance to see the finished house before the Tafoyas move in, Hayes said.
Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.