The first HFHAC home was constructed on a lot near the Addison County Community Trust trailer park on Rte 116 in Bristol. The lot was offered by Elizabeth Ready, the director of the Trust, for the cost of closing. They selected a couple with five children living in a cramped trailer in Starksboro. There were some difficulties with the financing of the trailer, which was mortgaged for more that it was actually worth, but HFHAC was able to work with the couple to sell it and with some creative financing they were successful in attaining an affordable mortgage for the new home.
Today, the family raises chickens, turkeys and pigs on their lot. The older children have jobs, and HFHAC says their mortgage checks arrive each month with a thank-you note or a piece of art work from the children. They are deemed a "shining example of successful HFH homeowners."
"When people have a sense of place, a lot follows," said Margaret Carothers, a founding member of HFHAC and one of the original board members. Carothers has been with HFH since the first meeting, and both she and her husband Peter have served two-year terms as president.
Robin Bentley is a single mother of two young children who was living in a small, cramped apartment in Middlebury. Although she had a good job, she did not make enough to afford a mortgage payment, yet she made just a little too much to qualify for state assistance. In addition, she had some credit issues due to recent life changes.
"I always felt, as an applicant, that there were human beings at Habitat," she said in a recent conversation. "I had the opportunity to explain my circumstances."
Bentley eventually became a member of Habitat's board and is currently a member of the family selection committee. Because of her own experiences with Habitat, she understands how important it is to families to have a nice home of their own.