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Affordable housing gets big boost

by Merrie Leininger

Sen. Richard Bryan will join Citizens for Affordable Homes and the USDA in a kick-off celebration and check presentation in the Ranchos today at 11 a.m.

Citizens for Affordable Homes will receive $357,930 for part of the costs of 24 homes to be built by homeowners in the Kimmerling Road/Wheeler Way area.

CAH helps families who cannot afford to buy their own homes to build them.

There are 24 lots in the Ranchos, but groups of eight families work together to build all eight homes at the same time, so a sense of community is formed, said executive director Art Seavey.

“It’s neat because it changes people’s lives. They work their tails off and have every right to be proud and hold onto their homes with more tenacity than others who just buy into it. They become a fairly tight neighborhood and look out for themselves. It’s neat to see them turn their lives around,” Seavey said.

The first eight homeowners have not been chosen yet, because of the large number of applicants.

Seavey said 238 people had applied for the 24 homes. They plan on starting the first 16 homes in August.

“There is that much interest and that many people who qualify. It just shows how many low income families live in the Carson Valley; more than a lot of people believe,” he said.

The $358,000 check from the USDA is the largest amount CAH has received for this project, Seavey said, but the organization has received $325,000 from the Rural Community Assistance Corporation and other donations from Western Nevada Home Consortium and Eagle Mark Bank.

Seavey said Bryan has always been interested in CAH and has visited other building sites in Dayton.

“He visited our project out in Dayton and talked to families. He’s been real interested in affordable housing,” he said.

n Applicant. Maureen Hill is a single mother of a 10-year-old daughter, Holly. She has already been through one credit check as part of the application process.

She heard about the project through her apartment manager and, although she wasn’t sure it was true, called up CAH.

“It almost sounded unbelievable. Once I started the application process I got really excited. It’s a big break for me. I’m a single mom who works a lot and I make too much to get other types of assistance. What’s good about this is they take into account all your major bills so you don’t pay more than 42 percent of your income,” Hill said.

Hill said working and gaining nothing has frustrated her.

“I’ve been renting an apartment for about $400 a month and I never have anything to show for it,” she said. “To me, this is going to be a once-in-a-lifetime chance.”

Greg Schaeffer and girlfriend Devanee Hames are looking for a home for them and their 3-year-old son.

“We heard about it through a friend. Right now we live with her mom and this is a great opportunity to get out on our own,” he said. “We’re both willing to do our part.”