VALATIE –The living room was full for the home dedications at 3039 and 3039A Main Street on Saturday, February 17. The two newly constructed attached homes of the Beaucage and Pratt/Sullivan families were the nineteenth and twentieth completed projects of Columbia County’s Habitat for Humanity (CCHH).
CCHH Executive Director Brenda Adams called the meeting to order. A long list of professional services and material providers were thanked for their assistance and donations, beginning with BarlisWedlick Architects with whom CCHH has a longstanding partnership. Also mentioned were Proper and O’Leary Engineering, the Levy Partnership Engineering Consultants, Rodenhausen Chale legal services, Bervy Excavation, the Chazen Companies for engineering, land surveying and environmental consulting, Columbia County Electrical Contractors notably Mike Clarke and Bill Houston, and Tom Bouchard and Joe Dwileski for donations of professional services.
A profusion of gratitude was also expressed for the support of the Valatie community, including the Friends of Valatie, local business community groups and faith groups who organized, volunteered and raised funds for the project. The Reverend Stark Jones of Valatie pronounced the blessing on the house with the help of the assembly and the families of Renee Beauchage and Josh Pratt and Omisha Sullivan were introduced.
As the gathering milled and talked, a member of the selection committee who did not want to be named, said, “A lot of people think that we are just giving away houses, but it is not like that.” She said that there is a whole list of requirements that the selection committee considers. They must be currently in substandard housing. The families that are selected take a course in home ownership. They must have a clean credit rating and have the income to maintain a mortgage. And they are required to put in at least 300 hours of work in the construction. Both families exceeded that minimum by a large margin.
Mr. Beaucage said “I am very proud.” She went on to say, “A lot of people think it’s like winning the lottery; I see them in the store and they say, ‘Oh, you won the house!’ And I say well, yes, but it’s a lot of work and responsibility. I wasn’t sure I even wanted to be a homeowner at first, but now I am sure.”
Congressman John Faso (R-19) was in the house. He said that this was “a perfect example of a non-profit doing great work in the community, with community volunteers and private sector and some government assistance.” He said that a group from Habitat for Humanity was in his office to call attention to the “Scaffold Law” of New York State which imposes strict liability on contractors and property owners making insurance prohibitively expensive. Mr. Faso’s bill to undo the liability standard was approved by the House Judiciary Committee on February 3.
Habitat is now accepting homeowner applications for a project being proposed for Ancram. The deadline for applications is March 16. They are seeking families whose occupations support Columbia County’s agricultural economy. CCHH is also embarking on a WomenBuild project in New Lebanon scheduled for winter 2018.