In 1997 Jennifer Jensen, a Middlebury College student, was working on her thesis, a study of housing needs in Addison County. HUD had determined that 21.6% of local homeowners and 39.9% of renters were paying more than 30% of their gross income for housing. At that time almost 5% of the housing stock in Addison County was considered substandard; lacking complete plumbing, having leaky pipes, missing windows or was overcrowded.
Jen put up flyers to see if the community would be interested in forming a Habitat for Humanity affiliate to address this local need. Some 30 people attended that first meeting. A steering committee established a set of by-laws, formed a board of directors, and held a dinner dance and silent auction at Basin Harbor in May of 1999 to raise some operating capital. Thus was born the Addison County Chapter.
Our first lot in Bristol was donated, for the cost of closing, by the Addison County Community Trust. Habitat’s Family Selection team found a couple with five kids living in a 970 sq. ft. trailer in Starksboro. A family should be selected before construction so that the house will suit the needs of the family—the right number of bedrooms, accessibility, and so forth. Habitat volunteers go to great lengths to ensure that the family will be able to pay Habitat the monthly mortgage which is interest free.
Four more homes were built in the intervening years. In 2010 Habitat bought 13 acres of land in Cornwall for less than $15,000, thanks to the generosity of the Town. A road was installed to accommodate what is called a four-unit Planned Unit Development (PUD), each with its own septic system. Two of the houses were completed by 2014.
In 2015 Connor Homes of Middlebury donated the shell of one of their award-winning homes with Habitat volunteers doing all the finish work. The owners of Middlebury’s South Ridge development sold us a parcel well below market price. The new owners occupied it early in 2016.
Since its inception in 1999, Habitat has built eight houses or one home every two years. We are getting better with every house. There were 30 months between the dedication of our first and second houses, 21 months between the fourth and fifth and the remaining three homes in a little more than four years.
Since 2001, Habitat for Humanity of Addison County, Vermont, has built more than 10 homes in Middlebury, Cornwall and Bristol, with plans for more to come in Middlebury and Vergennes.
Board of Directors
David Furney – Bristol, President
Gary Sarachan – Salisbury, Vice President
Phil Yauch – Cornwall, Treasurer
Erin Wollam-Berens – New Haven, Secretary
Beth Buckman – Warren
J. Ashley Cadwell – Weybridge
Alex Carver – Ripton
Poppy Cunningham – Vergennes
Sherry DeGray – Bridport
Terri Hallenbeck – St. George
Helmut Hietzker – Middlebury
Steve Ingram – Leicester
Michael Johnston – Addison
Blair Kloman – Weybridge
Priscilla Leng – Middlebury
Peter Markowski – Vergennes
Laura Napolitano – Orwell
Jeffrey Rehbach – Middlebury
Karen Shackett – Shoreham
Have a question for the Board? Interested in joining us?
Call our office at (802) 388-0400 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.