Farmington’s Habitat for Humanity extends search for right homeowner

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FARMINGTON, N.M. — The American Dream is what many of us strive for. For some folks, that dream can be too far out of reach, but that’s where one New Mexico nonprofit steps in, building homes for people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford it.

However, their annual search to find a new homeowner is taking longer than expected.

Tres Rios Habitat for Humanity is working to create more homeowners in San Juan County.  

“There was an article in USA Today that basically listed Farmington as one of the poorest communities per capita, that means per size, and there are a lot of people that don’t own their own homes,” Executive Director Hope Tyler said.

This year, they will build their 15th house, but the process of finding a candidate is taking a little longer than usual. 

“Normally when we open it, we get just flashed with (applications) and we did again this year however for whatever reasons we were not able to find a qualified candidate,” Tyler added.

In previous years, a candidate would be selected in November or early December, but this slow start won’t stop their plans to build a new house. Tyler said they will keep applications open for as long as it takes to find the right person.

“You do have to live in San Juan County for a minimum of a year, we want you to be a real community member, you do have to be able to show that your current housing is somehow unsafe or unsanitary or overcrowded. We had a couple that was overcrowding issues, like a family of 4 or 5 people living in one room.”

You also must be able to afford a $600 to $800 no-interest mortgage, but that is becoming increasingly difficult in today’s economy.

“I think that is one of the contributing factors of not having found a family yet, because with inflation everyone’s expenses are up, and when they give us their budgets it’s harder to say ‘well gosh, your already super overextended, we can’t really put you in a house that is going to make it worse for you, we want you to be successful,’” Tyler said.

Tyler added that this year’s home will be built in Aztec, and if everything aligns and they find a new homeowner soon, they could start construction as soon as April.