Habitat for Humanity of Coastal Fairfield County’s (CFC) Women Build program recently received a $10,000 grant from Near & Far Aid, a philanthropic organization dedicated to eliminating the causes and effects of poverty in Fairfield County. The award will assist in funding the current project, called “Women Build 7”, which consists of one unit in a two-building condominium complex located in Stamford’s West Main Street Commons.
Habitat for Humanity of Coastal Fairfield County’s Co-President and Chief Operator Officer Bruce Berzin said that this expansion into Stamford represents the Women Build program’s largest project to date. In addition, it’s the first time that Habitat CFC is constructing projects in three different communities — Bridgeport, Stratford and Stamford — simultaneously.
Berzin stated, “We are pleased to partner with Near & Far Aid as we continue to grow and support the construction of safe and affordable housing for low-income families in more communities throughout Fairfield County. This is the third year that Near & Far Aid has funded Women Build projects. We appreciate their continuous generosity.”
Since 2000, Near & Far Aid has donated $10 million to support programs that address families at risk, adults in crisis, homelessness, elder care, hunger, education and job training, health services and academic and cultural activities for disadvantaged youth.
“Near & Far Aid is delighted to continue to support The Women Build program as they expand into Stamford,” said Jeanne Burris, Vice President, Projects Review. “We share a commitment to serving as many communities as possible in Fairfield County, and applaud their continued effort to expand affordable housing opportunities for our area’s neediest individuals.”
Habitat CFC’s $2.5 million West Main Street construction project is comprised of eight Energy Star-rated, condominiums. There are three two-bedroom and five three-bedroom units. One of the three-bedroom units is wheelchair-accessible. Eileen Bakos, Habitat CFC’s Volunteer Manager and Women Build’s Co-Chairman, along with Ellen Quinn, pointed out that there is a critical need for affordable housing in all of coastal Fairfield County. They’re excited to be at the helm of Women Build’s first venture in Stamford.
Bakos said, “We provide sustainable homeownership solutions which not only improve the lives of Habitat families, but also stabilize neighborhoods and create community. This result would not be achieved without strong partners like Near & Far Aid.”
Caitlin Scanlan, Habitat for Humanity CFC’s Director of Development, explained that plans for the Stamford construction project have been underway since 2006. By collaborating with the City of Stamford, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), corporations, private donors and non-profit organizations, such as Near & Far Aid, construction started more than a year ago.
Based in Bridgeport, Habitat for Humanity CFC has completed 152 homes that have served more than 700 children and adults in Bridgeport, Stratford and Stamford. For 25 years, low income families have been able to purchase homes by contributing 500 hours of “sweat equity,” or volunteer hours, financed by a Habitat-provided 0 percent, 30-year mortgage. In keeping with Habitat’s mission, eligibility requirements are based upon a total family income that is 35 to 60 % of the median income for that specific community. In past years, single mothers with children have been offered priority placement for Women Build projects.
Women Build encourages and empowers women to learn construction skills and to use those skills to help move families out of poverty by building simple, safe and affordable homes. Launched in 2001, Habitat CFC’s Women Build has funded and constructed six homes.