Habitat for Humanity adding new homes to Matthew Henson community

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The Matthew Henson Village at Seventh Avenue and Buckeye is one of three public housing facilities in Phoenix supported by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Housing Opportunities for People Everywhere. (Ryan Boyd/DD)

A city subcommittee approved a contract for Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona to develop new affordable housing developments and fix existing ones in the Matthew Henson Village housing community on Tuesday.

This approval moves a vote on the contract forward to a full council meeting on December 13, according to Cindy Stotler, the Housing Director for the city of Phoenix.

Linsie Kalland, director of grants, compliance and procurement at Habitat For Humanity Central Arizona said Habitat for Humanity provides stronger community ties within the neighborhoods it builds.

This particular operation aims to help residents whose income is at or below 80 percent of the area’s median income, according to the subcommittee agenda, by selling homes at more affordable prices with a no interest on the mortgage.

“We’ll sell them based on appraised value, but it will be based on what they can afford to pay,” said Maribel Saucedo, director of family services at Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona. “The houses do come fully equipped with all the appliances, so refrigerator, stove, microwave, disposal, that kind of stuff.

The agenda for the subcommittee meeting said Habitat for Humanity will build 31 new homes and rehabilitate up to 80 over the next five years.

Habitat for Humanity aims to rehabilitate the vacant properties, and create community projects which positively impact the neighborhood, according to Kalland.

Stotler suggested community features such as gardens, improved irrigation systems and insulation of benches while presenting the proposal to subcommittee.

“We’re not getting land for a community center per say,” Kalland said. “But there is a community park in a close area that we’re looking at doing some projects with, so it’ll be more about engaging the residents, going into these homes with the larger existing community centers.”

Saucedo said the new efforts will benefit many aspects of the community.

“There are a lot of resources within the subject area, so we’ll tap into a lot of the resources and let families know about them,” Saucedo said. “I think the current homeowners who live there will look forward to having homeowners next door. Schools will improve. I know there’s a low attendance in this school area, so I think bringing families will help the districts and the schools.”

Stotler also proposed up to $100,000 in grants for the project, which came as a surprise to Kalland and Jason Barlow, CEO and President of Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona.

“The RFP didn’t guarantee that there would be any additional funding to go with it, it was just for the lots,” Kalland said.

Barlow said the funds would be a good jump-starter for the project.

“That could be funding for infrastructure and help in getting things going,” Barlow said. “It’s like an early Christmas present.”

The council received an alternative proposal from Chicanos Por La Causa, which was ultimately declined in a score given by the evaluation panel.

Stotler said Habitat for Humanity’s 30-year history with building homes for low-income families factored in to pushing out Chicanos Por La Causa.

“Not only will we be building the homes, but the neighborhood revitalization projects, and there are a couple parks in there as well, that we’re planning to do some work in the area and the Grand Central Park areas,” Kalland said. “So this really just expands our opportunities in that area and just engage with residents. It’s exciting.”

Contact the reporter at mbcyr@asu.edu.

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