BY NATALIA KOZIKOWSKA
Last Friday, former President Jimmy Carter, his wife Rosalynn Carter and the nonprofit Habitat for Humanity visited St. Albans to help renovate a one-family home for a Queens family who may not have been able to afford it otherwise.
As part of a week-long October celebration, which is part of the 30th Annual Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project, Carter, his wife and more than 1,000 volunteers have been renovating five single-family homes in Queens, as well as 10 homes in Staten Island that were damaged by Superstorm Sandy.
In addition to the renovations in New York City, an estimated 3,000 volunteers will also join the Carters to help build and repair more than 80 homes in five locations across the United States.
Since 1984, President Carter has been the face of Habitat for Humanity, inspiring thousands of volunteers to give a week of their time each year to help build homes and raise awareness of the important role that decent, affordable housing plays in breaking the cycle of poverty.
“[The Carters] are an inspiring couple,” said Neil Hetherington, CEO of Habitat for Humanity New York City. “To have the President and Mrs. Carter come to Queens, and then to Staten Island to show their love for New York City and affordable housing in general, is moving. It’s inspired a whole lot of volunteers across the United States to come out and build.”
“In general, it is the hardworking families who simply need a break – they need the opportunity that Habitat could afford to them,” he added.
For more than two hours, 89-year-old Carter and his 86-year-old wife joined 25 Habitat for Humanity volunteers to work on the St. Albans home, building a deck at the rear of the house that sits on 112th Road.
In total, Habitat for Humanity purchased 38 one and-two-bedroom homes in the Borough from the New York City Housing Authority. Many of the homes, including the five that will be renovated in Councilman Donovan Richards’ (D-Laurelton) district, have been vacant and unlivable for quite some time.
“NYCHA boarded up these houses because they could not afford to operate them and so Habitat came in and said, we would love to make a transformative difference,” Hetherington said. “It’s a beautiful neighborhood, but there was this boarded up house that had vermin, animals living in it… the neighbors weren’t thrilled, so we came in and decided to renovate it. Let’s bring hope to where there’s despair.”
“They are going to be working on a couple of homes in my district that were eyesores for over a decade,” Richards told the Tribune last week. “The neighborhood has been crying about these sites. We were pushing NYCHA to do something about these properties so we were very overjoyed when Habitat came in.”
Habitat for Humanity is putting an emphasis on helping local families who rent apartments into the homes which will range anywhere from $200,000 to $300,000 and rather then a typical mortgage, Habitat will offer loans that require only a one percent down payment with a 30-year interest rate at two percent.
A qualified family must earn between 50 percent and 80 percent of the neighborhood’s median income and put in between 200 and 400 hours of volunteer time – also referred to as “sweat equity.”
For more information about the project visit http://habitatnyc.org. To learn how you can volunteer, contact Councilman Donovan Richards’ district office at (718) 527-4402.
Reach Natalia Kozikowska at (718) 357-7400 Ext. 123 or firstname.lastname@example.org or @nkozikowska.