By GREG RUSSELL
Register Staff Writer
Following a turbulent development of more than two years, Gainesville Area Habitat for Humanity officials presented their ninth local house Thursday morning to the qualifying family.
The three-bedroom, two-bathroom house on Gainesville’s East Pecan Street offers two stories where the agency’s prior projects offered only one, along with a free stove and refrigerator courtesy of the Whirlpool Corporation — a standard offering in all Habitat homes.
Habitat President Ron Dedoes said family names and information couldn’t be released, but added that the new Pecan Street residents are set to settle in during the next week.
“We’ve given her the keys but she can’t move in yet because the mortgage papers haven’t been completed,” he said Thursday. “She’s ready to take occupancy as soon as that’s taken care of.”
Problems along the way
Raising the roughly $60,000 necessary for the Pecan Street house was only one problem this time around for Habitat, though it was a persistent one.
“It seems like every time we try to raise funds, another organization is holding a fundraising activity,” Dedoes said Thursday. “We did have more difficult of a time.”
The ninth home, now complete, had been a work in progress since 2011. Dedoes discussed the project several times through the past two years — always offering that it hit several snags: some involving procedure, and some involving people.
“The original family was disqualified because of several reasons,” he said in January. “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.”
It was after an extensive and problematic application process that Habitat finally chose a single-mother family to live in the new Pecan Street 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.
Another 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, which solved the problem for Habitat.
“I don’t want to blame the city for that,” Dedoes said in January. “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.”
Even more difficulty came in providing the ninth house with utilities. In a September 2012 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.”
On Thursday, Dedoes gave credit to the following businesses and organizations that provided free labor and services for the Pecan Street house: Bill Black Electric, Ace Air Conditioning, John Beck Insulation and Temple Baptist Church.
House number 10
Virtually no decisions have been made concerning Habitat’s next home, Dedoes said Thursday. The organization’s semi-annual luncheon and golf tournament fundraisers will continue as usual, giving way for the Gainesville agency to provide its tenth local house since 1999.
In the meantime, he said, the agency itself could use support in the form of additional board members. No special qualifications are required, beyond a lack of a criminal background.
For more information, call (940) 665-3091.