Old Town, ME – Two Old Town families living in cramped, unhealthy, and potentially dangerous conditions are planning for better days ahead.
Renee Byers has been living in a house with slanted floors, sagging ceilings, and suspect wiring that sparks when she plugs in appliances. She worries most about her young daughter, who struggles with some mobility issues, navigating the steep stairway to her bedroom. “In the mornings, especially, it’s difficult for her to get down the stairs. If there were ever a fire in our house, I don’t see how the girls could safely get out through the 2nd story window.”
Jennifer Roy had been unplugging her appliances before she left the apartment she shared with her two daughters for fear of electrical fire. “My youngest wouldn’t stay home alone – ever – because of some shady goings-on in our neighborhood. Even with three locks on our door, we never felt safe.” Last year, a meth lab was discovered in the apartment next door. Jennifer slept on the couch so her girls could have their own bedrooms.
Last month, Renee and Jennifer learned that their applications for Habitat Bangor’s home ownership program had been approved. They have been working with Habitat volunteers and staff ever since to begin planning for their new homes.
The City of Old Town donated two homes to Habitat Bangor last year. One home has been demolished to make way for a new one to be built in partnership with Eastern Maine Community College’s Building, Electrical, and Fine Woodworking programs. The other home was salvageable and will be renovated with the help of UMaine’s Construction Engineering Technology program.
“Floor plans are being drawn now with Renee and Jennifer’s input,” says Lynn Hempen, Habitat Bangor’s executive director. “Habitat homeowners invest 200 hours of sweat equity into their homes and are involved in every step of the building process, from developing the floorplans to picking out the paint colors. But a Habitat home is much more than the sum of its parts. A Habitat home creates a safe, stable foundation for families to build their lives on. It’s an opportunity for them to get ahead financially and gives them real hope for a better future for their families.”
Construction will begin on the homes this month. Community members interested in donating time, materials, professional services, or funds can visit www.habitatbangor.org for more information.