Neither frigid cold nor threat of snow flurries could stop the more than 40 volunteers from raising the walls of Southold Town’s first Habitat for Humanity home Thursday.
Michael Bredemeyer, a lifelong Orient resident, said seeing the framework of the walls erected for his future home was like watching his dream come true.
“It feels like reality now,” he said. “It feels good to see this part done.”
The next phase in construction comes more than seven months after the long vacant and blighted home that formerly stood on the Greenway East property in Orient was demolished to make way for the new construction.
Though the concrete foundation, basement and floorboards were constructed almost immediately following the July demo, the harsh and cold winter weather has caused delays. The wall raising ceremony, considered a milestone during the Habitat building process, was stalled for several weeks due to the weather, said Diane Burke, the Executive Director and CEO at Habitat for Humanity of Suffolk County.
“The conditions were so bad that it was dangerous for crews to work,” she said. “This is a special day. We are so excited about this build and excited for Michael.”
In late 2013, the Orient property was identified by Suffolk County’s 72H affordable housing program. Through that program, properties are repossessed and turned over to local communities for affordable housing.
At the age of 26, Mr. Bredemeyer, who is the assistant parks and recreation supervisor at Orient Beach State Park, was select from a pool of five applicants in Southold Town to be the homeowner. Mr. Bredemeyer said without the help of Habitat for Humanity he never would have imagined owning a house in his hometown. He said the high cost of living on Long Island would have eventually forced him to move elsewhere.
Dan Sarnowski of the town’s Housing Advisory Commission said partnerships like the one with Habitat for Humanity are essential to solving Southold’s affordable housing crisis. The commission, he said, is planning to meeting with Habitat officials in the spring to discuss the possibility of bringing similar projects to the area.
“I am hoping this is first of many more [Habitat for Humanity homes] in Southold,” Mr. Sarnowski said. “There are several properties in town that could be candidates.”
Habitat for Humanity of Suffolk County aims to construct 10 to 12 houses for low income individuals and families each year, Ms. Burke said.
“We are certainly looking forward to doing it again [in Southold Town],” she said.
Over the next several months, Mr. Bredemeyer is expected to work with volunteers to help build the new house. Once it is complete, Mr. Bredemeyer will be responsible for paying his own mortgage — which will be calculated based on the final cost of construction.
Mr. Bredemeyer plans to stay for now with his parents, John — a town trustee — and Beverly Bredemeyer, at their family home just a few miles from where his new home is under construction.
“I am already having fun shopping for the house,” his mother said. “I can’t wait until he can move in.”