3/25/10

    For Española resident Elena Roybal, a single mother with three children, the dream of owning a house was something she thought would never come true.

    However, thanks to the Española/Los Alamos Habitat for Humanity program, she broke ground on her new house March 6, just off State Road 30 in Española.

    “A year ago I was working two jobs and was just struggling to make it,” Roybal said. “This house will really help out in terms of setting things right and saving money for the family.”            Roybal, who now works the graveyard shift at a health care facility in Santa Fe, said she first applied to the Habitat program a year ago but did not think she would be accepted.

    “At the time everything was really difficult, but I went in and applied,” Roybal said. “I got accepted and have been volunteering at the Re-Store ever since.”

    Ten to 15 local volunteers are working on Roybal’s house mostly on Saturdays, Habitat Operations Director Yvonne Maestas-Rios said.

    Many members of Roybal’s family have also pitched in, including her father Paul Roybal, and uncle Dennis Quintana, who poured the house’s foundation March 19.

    “It’s been a good time,” Paul Roybal said. “We’re just out here helping out.”

    Maestas said every volunteer crew is overseen by a boss who keeps the project going in an orderly fashion. However, only working Saturdays, progress can be slow and Roybal’s house will not be completed until December, according to Maestas.

    The three-bedroom house is being built on a 2.1 acre piece of land, and will have around 1,150 square feet in space, Maestas said. After the purchase of the land, and the house being built with volunteer labor, the final construction cost comes to $120,000.

    “A lot of volunteers are family members,” Straw Boss Peter Walsh, of Los Alamos, said. “I volunteered because I retired two years ago from the Lab, but it was interesting because I used to work with a couple of (Roybal’s) brothers.”

    Maestas said that houses built by Habitat, are done through loans the participants take at zero percent interest.

    However, at least 300 hours of “sweat equity” are required from the participants, which is either in labor on the house, or in Roybal’s case working at the Habitat Re-Store in Arroyo Seco. Additionally, the future homeowner's family members and friends can contribute up to 150 hours of work toward the participant’s 300 hours.

    The Re-Store is a store run by Habitat, which sells used building materials and items for the household, Maestas said. Although some of the items at the store are new all are at discounted prices.

    When Roybal and her three daughters: Isabel, Angelica and Anicia were selected, she was excited, because it will give her a chance to pay less per month, on a mortgage than on rent. With the extra money, she said she will return to school, to work on a degree in social services, but most of all she is happy to have a place to call her own.      

    “Well my children and I have moved several times over the past few years,” said Roybal. “We lived in a trailer and at my parents, but really didn’t have any place to really call our own.”

    From April 12 to 15, a volunteer group called the Arkansas Valley Colorado Habitat Mission, out of Buena Vista, Colo., will be coming to Española and helping with the Roybal’s house Maestas said.

    Instead of working the typical Saturdays, the group will be working the entire time they are here, Maestas said.

     To volunteer for or donate to Habitat for Humanity, call 747-2690.         

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