By GREG RUSSELL, Register Staff Writer
Steady fundraising efforts by Gainesville Area Habitat for Humanity have brought one recent homebuilding project almost to a close.
And Friday’s chili luncheon at Gainesville Civic Center marked a new beginning, making way for a funding stream toward a new house somewhere in Gainesville for a family in need.
President Ron Dedoes said Friday it hasn’t been decided where Habitat’s next project will be, but his agency’s ninth and most recent home — a 1.5-story at the intersection of Taylor and Pecan streets — is within 60 days of completion, and final funds are in place.
“We have enough money to finish that house, currently,” he said. “But we don’t have enough to start another one.”
Habitat houses in Gainesville run between $50,000 and $60,000 in construction costs. The agency commonly cuts building expenses by way of donated materials and labor. Since the agency’s inception in 1999, budgets are raised through dinners, private donations and events such as an annual golf tournament.
Dedoes said the agency already has nearly $15,000 in funds for the next home, but he prefers to have 75 percent of the projected cost in hand before proceeding.
“That can take a while,” he said. “Our major fundraiser is the golf tournament and will be held on June 22, in Lake Kiowa. That will be our major fundraiser and sometimes we get between $12,000 to $15,000 as a result of that one.”
The ninth home currently nearing completion has been a work in progress since fall 2011. Dedoes said the project hit several snags: some involving procedure, and some involving people.
“The original family was disqualified because of several reasons,” he said. “We then had to go and start the procedure over again to find the next family. And we held off on any new construction, not knowing what the next family was going to be.”
One major obstacle for the ninth home came from the May 2011 death of Gainesville building official Roy Lewis, which later led to a freeze in the project’s permit process.
Gainesville officials later contracted with outside inspection firm Bureau Veritas North America, and this solved the problem for Habitat.
“I don’t want to blame the city for that,” Dedoes said Friday. “It was a learning experience for all of us. And some of the rules and regulations that applied before didn’t in this house. And so, as a Habitat group, we had to comply with those.”
Another obstacle was difficulty in providing the ninth house with utilities. In a September story, Dedoes said crews were unable to pinpoint sewer and water lines on Pecan Street that could be connected to the new house, a problem unique to the process.
“We found them for the last two houses,” he said in September. “This time, we have not been able to find them, so we’re having to make some road cuttings on the Pecan Street side so that we can install sewer and water. That’s going to be an extra expense that we have not had in the past.”
But following an extensive and problematic application process, Habitat finally chose a single-mother family to live in the new house. Terms of the residency include “sweat equity” volunteer work on house construction, plus interest-free house payments on a loan that has a 20-year term.
With this project complete, Habitat officials intend to focus on the future — which may involve the development of more than one home at a time. Dedoes said a deal with the city, which would provide a cul-de-sac on Beattie Street in accommodation of four new Habitat houses, has been on hold since 2009.
“They have not given us a date on when that will be done,” he said Friday. “We’re going to have to investigate some other possibilities.”