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Habitat for Humanity to build three houses for fire victims

Rogue Valley Habitat for Humanity announced this week that the purchase of two burned properties in Phoenix and Talent will enable them to begin building three new homes this year for families displaced by last summer’s fires.

Program and operations director Brandon Thoms said staff and volunteers hope to open up an application process later this month.

The new houses will be offered to – and built with sweat equity by – fire victims displaced from Phoenix and Talent by the Sept. 8 Almeda fire.

The properties – one in Phoenix and one in Talent – were purchased using money donated after the loss of more than 2,500 housing units.

Thoms said an online orientation will kick off April 28 and remain open for 30 days so applications can be submitted.

“Not only will we be rebuilding on parcels that were destroyed in the disaster, but these three homes will only be available to families directly impacted and displaced by the 2020 Almeda fire,” said Thoms.

The properties are located on Arnos Road in Talent and Northridge Terrace in Phoenix.

“We received donations from the community when we began our work supporting fire survivors, knowing that our intention and our time to shine and really make a difference would be when we got to the rebuild phase, which we are finally able to squeak into as cleanup has been taking place,” Thoms said.

“We purchased these two parcels, and now we’re ready for families to apply for our process. Both parcels had structures on them that were lost in the fire, and the individuals chose not to rebuild for whatever reason. We’re going to bring things full circle and limit our search for these properties to fire survivors.”

Thoms said the decision process would be based on a thorough review of applicants and is not “a housing lottery.” Applicants for Habitat houses must meet a list of criteria and contribute sweat equity to the construction of their home. Habitat recipients end up with a 30-year mortgage and a monthly payment ranging between $500 and $800.

“These individuals have to prove they are ready for home ownership and have to be willing to partner with us. We already know they have a need, because everybody lost their housing. They have to be willing to complete a pretty intense homeowner education process and put in the work,” Thoms said.

“We want to set them up for success.”

Applicants for the Habitat homes can register for the April 28 orientation online, at roguevalleyhabitat.org. The orientation will be recorded and posted online for those who cannot attend in real time.

Thoms said he was excited to see his organization start to reclaim some of the charred ground for families of Phoenix and Talent.

“There’s no question that the fire decimated and devastated our community,” he added. “Now we get to start the process to take some of it back. We get to clean it up and make it better than it was before.

“The fire was a horrible thing. We have a wonderful opportunity here to take a tragedy and offer these families, who couldn’t afford it before, the option of home ownership.”

Formore info,see www.roguevalleyhabitat.org/

Reach freelance writer Buffy Pollock at buffyp76@yahoo.com.

Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune Habitat for Humanity's Brandon Thoms explains the future of building two homes off Arnos Road in Talent.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneHabitat for Humanity's Brandon Thoms explains the future of building two homes off Arnos Rd in Talent.