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Northern Berkshire Habitat for Humanity volunteers this week were putting the finishing touches on a home at the corner of Cole Avenue and Maple Street in Williamstown.

Habitat for Humanity Holds Open House Saturday, Seeks Family for New Project

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
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The foundation is already in for a second Habitat home in Williamstown's Cole Avenue neighborhood.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Northern Berkshire Habitat for Humanity is nearly ready to move a family into one Cole Avenue neighborhood home and looking for a family to occupy a second.
On Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m., Habitat for Humanity will hold an open house in a newly constructed single family home at the corner of Cole Avenue and Maple Street.
Meanwhile, the non-profit has begun the application process to become the first family to live in a second home next door, where the foundation already is in place and construction soon will be underway.
Both homes are being built on land purchased using Community Preservation Act funds by the board of the town's Affordable Housing Trust for the purpose of subsidized housing.
On Friday morning, NBHFH Project Manager Paul Austin was on the job site of the first home helping to put the finishing touches on it.
He said that the home will be ready for a family of three probably in the middle of September.
"We won't be completely ready [for the open house]," Austin said. "We're still waiting on a few things. But, in all probability, we'll be 90 percent complete. We have a little painting to do, touch-ups and that kind of thing. The gas hasn't been installed, we're supposed to get the refrigerator today."
But with the Labor Day holiday weekend approaching and the family's move-in date close behind, Habitat thought this was the best weekend to celebrate the completion of a building process that has been more challenging than most.
"COVID has kind of thrown off the schedule," Austin said. "We lost three months in the spring [of 2020] when we kind of shut down. Then we were limited to five or six people, just the core volunteers, people who had experience and had been with us for a while.
"There's been material shortages. And because a lot of [trades] people were really busy, it was hard to get electricians or plumbers to schedule us in. Fortunately, that's kind of resolved itself now."
In general, a house this size should take the group about a year to complete, Austin said. The house at the corner of Cole and Maple will take about two years when all is said and done.
Unlike a typical Northern Berkshire Habitat for Humanity construction project, this one was not able to accept labor contributions from outside groups, including one that would have been a natural partner on the Williamstown project.
"College students, particularly from Williams College, always have been good to us over the years," Austin said. "I think this is the first house they haven't participated in.
"Hopefully, if we get COVID under control, the next house will be a little faster."
That house, located downhill from the nearly completed home, is slated to have a maximum sale price of $147,000. The income eligibility is on a sliding scale based on the size of the family; a family of four would need to have a minimum annual income of $26,500 and a maximum income of $50,460. Those figures are pegged to 30 percent and 60 percent of the area median income.
The application deadline is Oct. 22.
"We like to have them in place early in the process," Austin said. "Each adult [from the selected family] has to contribute 250 hours of sweat equity in the house. It helps them build pride in the house and teaches them how to take care of the house and what goes into it."
More information about the selection criteria and an application are available on the Northern Berkshire Habitat for Humanity website.

Tags: habitat for humanity,   open house,   

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Mount Greylock District Aims to Increase Sense of Belonging for All Families

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Recent reports of racist incidents at Williamstown Elementary School prompted a discussion at the Mount Greylock School Committee on Thursday.
And that discussion tied directly to a scheduled discussion about the long-term improvement plan for the district.
Committee member Jose Constantine raised the issue during the monthly report from WES Principal Cindy Sheehy.
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