Grand Island Area Habitat for Humanity received the honor for Best in Affordability Home Design competition at the Habitat for Humanity International’s annual conference Monday at Atlanta.
In the category, the Grand Island location came out ahead of all other Habitat affiliates nationwide.
Honored was an open concept floor plan for a three-bedroom house, designed primarily by Amos Anson of Grand Island.
Grand Island Habitat’s 111th home, currently being built, makes use of the award-winning floor plan. That home is under construction at 2085 Nelson Lane in Habitat’s subdivision.
It’s the first time Grand Island Habitat has built an open concept house.
Grand Island Habitat’s building committee came up with the plan for the three-bedroom house, which totals 1,072 square feet.
“We as a group gave input on it and I executed that vision,” said Anson, who is Grand Island Habitat’s longtime construction manager.
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It’s “pretty cool” to win a nationwide Habitat competition, he said. Nearly 100 Habitat affiliates entered the design competition.
Anson likes the way Habitat for Humanity works.
“It’s just really important for me personally to help people move themselves forward in life,” he said.
Anson makes sure people know that “we don’t give houses away. People pay a mortgage.”
The process is “why I’ve dedicated so much of my time to the organization,” said Anson, who’s worked with Habitat for close to two decades.
During the years, most of the Habitat houses built locally contained three bedrooms and one bath. Occasionally, if the need arose, a four-bedroom home was built, said Grand Island Habitat Executive Director Alyssa Heagy.
In January of this year, Grand Island Habitat adopted open concept plans for two-bedroom, three-bedroom and four-bedroom houses.
“The construction criteria has changed,” Heagy said. Habitat International issued new guidelines calling for greater accessibility.
The new houses can be quickly and easily converted if a family’s needs change, Heagy said. One change might involve a family member who needs a wheelchair.
Homeowners will have less space because “by decreasing the square footage we can decrease their costs, which decreases their mortgage,” Heagy said.
The plans allow for easy expansion.
“So if their family does grow, they can adapt their house to meet their needs,” she said.
“Habitat, being a nonprofit, has a fiscal responsibility to be good stewards of our resources,” Anson said in a statement provided by Habitat. “We approached the new floor plan with that goal in mind as well as the needs of the future homeowners. With this new floor plan, we were able to maximize the living space and also provide our families the ability to easily add on a bedroom or garage as they can afford it. I personally believe housing affordability plays a massive role in building generational wealth. Helping provide that for our families is very important to me and the new layout helps to further that dream for our homeowners.”
The 111th home will be completed at the end of June, if the weather cooperates.
It’s expected to be the home of Evelin Garcia Ixtabalan and Celbin Gomez Perez, a married couple with one daughter.
“They’re on the construction site every Saturday, helping to build their house,” Heagy said.
To take over a Habitat home, homebuyers must put in 500 hours of sweat equity.
The award from Habitat International includes a $4,000 grant that will be put toward construction of the house.
On March 19, Grand Island Habitat auctioned off the naming rights to the three new designs.
Dan Naranjo submitted the winning bid for the three-bedroom design. The plan has been named in memory of his late father, Francisco Naranjo, “a man who was committed to being of service to his community,” according to Grand Island Habitat.
Each time the plan is used, it will be in memory of Francisco Naranjo.
The other two design plans also were auctioned with proceeds to Habitat.