After three years of hard work and delays due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a Buffalo single mom is moving into her new Habitat for Humanity home just in time for Christmas.
Brandie Jones and her 15-year-old daughter were joined Saturday morning by family, friends and Habitat for Humanity staff to celebrate the completion of their new home on Haven Street in East Buffalo.
The two-story, three-bedroom house was completely rehabilitated by Jones and her family, along with hundreds of Habitat for Humanity volunteers. It took more than 4,000 hours of volunteer work to complete the home. Five Star Bank provided a partial sponsorship for construction.
This home is Habitat Buffalo’s 347th house in Erie County, and one of more than 200 in East Buffalo.
"We're really excited that you get this home," Habitat for Humanity Buffalo director of development and communication Stephanie Lawson said to Jones during the dedication ceremony.
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Construction on this rehab project began in 2019, but was stalled during the pandemic. When work resumed, progress was slower than usual because Habitat for Humanity had to limit the number of volunteers who could work on the house at a time, Lawson said. It was also more difficult to find contractors, as many of Habitat Buffalo's usual contractors were completely booked.
"This house took us a little while to get back into the swing of things, but we're really excited that we were able to," Lawson said. "This family worked so hard."
Habitat for Humanity Buffalo helps create homeownership opportunities for low-income families. Families that purchase houses through Habitat's program are required to contribute 400 hours of "sweat equity" by working alongside community volunteers to build their home and the houses of other families. Families purchase their homes from Habitat Buffalo by paying a low-interest, affordable monthly mortgage.
"Nobody just enters our program and is handed keys," Lawson said. "They work really hard so that they can achieve their dream of owning a home."
When construction first began on Jones' new home, it was in rough shape, Lawson said. Volunteers took the house "down to the studs" to make sure all the plumbing and electrical system was safe. Jones got to pick out details she wanted in the home, such as the wall color, flooring and countertops.
"(Jones) was out here swinging the hammer. She saw the progress," Lawson said. "So it really is a special feeling knowing that we were able to make this possible just in time for Christmas."
Habitat for Humanity currently has 11 homes under construction in Buffalo. The organization is always looking for volunteers and accepting donations, Lawson said. For more information, visit habitatbuffalo.org.