The American Dream of home ownership has come true for Cortez residents John Clark and Kenia Chavez, as they prepare to move into a home of their own this week, thanks to Habitat for Humanity of Montezuma County.
After holding a series of community meetings in March to gather interest from applicants, the Habitat for Humanity of Montezuma County selection committee has spent the past few months interviewing families and narrowing down prospective partners. Clark and Chavez were the first to be selected.
The nonprofit purchased three partially built homes in Cortez in December.
At a home-dedication ceremony on Sunday, Habitat for Humanity of Montezuma County officials praised the young couple’s tenacity and dedication to the goal of owning a home of their own, a dream that started long before they applied to the program.
“I want to applaud your effort you made to be home owners,” said Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Barbara Stagg. “Not only over the last six months, but over the last few years. These folks knew what they wanted, and saved for it.”
One large qualification of being selected for the program is demonstrated ability to meet monthly mortgage payments. The program provides selected applicants with interest-free financing to keep the monthly payments low, as well as guidance on monthly budgeting, appliance upkeep and replacement timelines, pest control and more.
Habitat board president Gary Harding also praised the couple’s willingness to dive into the opportunity.
“You folks have done everything right for years, and have been great partners,” he said.
Chavez held back tears as she thanked the roughly 20 community members and Habitat volunteers in attendance at the dedication ceremony.
“Thank you for having such big hearts to build houses and continuing to do such good things for families. We’re so grateful and blessed to be able to call this place home,” said Chavez.
Habitat for Humanity also requires the input of 200 hours of “sweat equity” per adult applicant, either on their own home or another Habitat rehab or construction project.
“We painted all of this,” Clark said proudly, standing in the living room of his new home as visitors shuffled in to get a glimpse after the ceremony. “One day we’ll hopefully have another baby, a boy, so we painted one of the rooms blue.”
In between hugs from family, friends and visitors Chavez expressed gratitude and disbelief that she was officially a homeowner.
“We are so, so happy and so blessed, this is such a great opportunity for us to be able to grow our family here,” she said, wiping away tears.