Habitat helps two families realize housing dreams | SteamboatToday.com

Habitat helps two families realize housing dreams

— Two single parents and their children are in new homes thanks to Habitat for Humanity in Steamboat Springs.

“This home is the kids’ and my little miracle,” Cathryn Marie said to a crowd gathered outside her West End Village duplex.

A house dedication was held at the duplex Friday evening.

“We feel like we have an extended family now with the people who have helped us,” Marie said.

Marie is a ski instructor at the Steamboat Ski Area as well as a Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club coach. Her son, A.J. Johnson, is a senior at Steamboat Springs High School and worked on the house full-time during the summer of 2005.

“I learned to build a house,” A.J. said. “It’s really nice having my own room. My mom has her own room.”

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So does his sister, Chelsea Marie, a seventh grader at Christian Heritage School.

The family’s half of the duplex is 1,200 square feet with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. It is quite an improvement over the Hillside Village Apartments, where they lived in a two-bedroom apartment.

The Seng family also lived at Hillside for two-and-a-half years. They now share the other half of the Habitat duplex.

Jeff Seng is a carpenter, who has been raising his three children, Elexia, 10, Alex, 9, and Gabriella, 7, by himself.

“Being a working single parent, I was ready to pack up and go back to Chicago,” said Seng, who originally moved to Steamboat to take custody of his kids. “To actually own a home is pretty much a lottery.”

He said he wanted to stay in Steamboat because it was a better environment for his kids.

Marissa Jaime also attended the house dedication along with her five children. The family has been chosen as the recipient of the next West End Village Habitat home that will be built next to the one that was just completed.

“The neighborhood is so good, and I’m excited to be a homeowner,” said Jaime, who has been commuting from Craig to Steamboat for the past eight years. She works at a lodge as a front desk clerk.

Habitat for Humanity board treasurer Jim Ballard said construction on the new home would start once the snow melts.

Just down the alley from the latest Habitat home is another duplex that was built through Habitat.

In 2001, Habitat completed its first home on Conestoga Circle. The organization’s first project was remodeling 21 low-income Hillside Village apartments.

“It’s really satisfying as you can imagine,” Ballard said.

Habitat homes are built with sweat equity from the future homeowners as well as materials that are donated or discounted. BMC West Building Materials provided the materials for the latest Habitat home. There also are volunteers, such as Jim Southard and Gary Baggenstoss, who donated hundreds of hours of their time. That makes it possible to sell the homes to Seng and Marie for about $125,000 each, which equals a mortgage of about $400 a month.

“Now that is affordable,” Ballard said, adding there are restrictions on the resale of the units.

-To reach Matt Stensland, call 871-4210 or e-mail mstensland@steamboatpilot.com