The Habitat for Humanity Peninsula & Greater Williamsburg may have closed their Habitat ReStores to the public but their mission to build affordable houses for the community continues.
Under Gov. Ralph Northam’s stay-at-home order, essential workers such as those in health care industry, grocery store staff, shipyard employees and even construction workers are permitted to work during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Our Construction Team, 5 people, have continued our mission of building affordable homes for families with low-to-moderate incomes by trying to secure, finish the homes already under way, however we are not allowing volunteers on the construction sites,” Janet Green, CEO for Habitat for Humanity Peninsula & Greater Williamsburg wrote in an email.
While the Habitat ReStores are closed to the public, Green said several staff members are working on their online sales and practice social distancing. Proceeds from the ReStores go toward the nonprofit’s First-Time Homebuyer Program, which helps families with low income buy and pay off their home.
Since the volunteers usually help build the homes alongside the construction crews, why are the construction workers continuing to work without them?
“Our homeowners are the ones that are on the front lines,” Green said. “They are mostly making low to moderate incomes and at this point, we want to make sure we do everything to help them stay in their homes as much as possible.”
The home mortgages are due on the 1st so the nonprofit created a COVID-19 Resiliency Fund to help the homeowners. You can donate to the fund here.
Another reason to continue construction is to protect the house from being destroyed.
“Because it’s unsafe for the houses to remain exposed to either the elements or vandals,” Green said. “This is a pretty big investment that habitat has made in the house and to keep it exposed is not a good use of anyone’s funds.”
As of Monday, Habitat for Humanity was working on three homes across the Peninsula each on a different stage of construction. One home in Williamsburg is about 80 percent complete, another in Hampton is 40 percent complete and the third in Newport News is 10 percent complete, Green said.
The home in Newport News was just started, Green noted, adding there was only the foundation and the floor system installed but the nonprofit planned to put up walls and the roof this week.
“We are finishing each one as much as we can,” she said. “Houses that have not started yet, we are not going to start that.”
Green said construction crews plan to “button up” the houses and the nonprofit will use licensed contractors for the HVAC and plumbing installations.
Construction crew members typically wear gloves and masks on the job site and Green said they donated more than 100 N95 respiratory masks to Sentara in Williamsburg and Riverside Regional Medical Center in Newport News.
“So we’re trying out best to help out the health care community as much as possible,” she said.
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