By Brittany Polito
05:19PM / Thursday, July 20, 2023
Select Board members and Town Manager Tom Hutcheson take a turn at the shovels on Thursday.
DALTON, Mass. — Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity broke ground on a Gulf Road build on Thursday, bringing an affordable home ownership option to a quiet neighborhood.
In less than a year there will be a 1,500-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bathroom ranch priced in the low $200,000 range on the property next to the historic Fitch-Hoose House.
"This has been a long haul to get to here today," CEO Carolyn Valli said.
"It's been over three years which is not our normal pace but we're just so glad that probably within six months we'll see a family in this house and we'll see children playing in the yard."
The town's average home prices are estimated to range from around $290,000 to $310,000 with the average rent around $1,300.
Select Board member Robert Bishop said the town appreciates what Habitat is doing and it was a pleasure to work with them on the project. This is the second Habitat for Humanity home in Dalton.
"It's a great day for Dalton, we need more affordable housing," Town Manager Tom Hutcheson said.
The organization partnered with the town before the COVID-19 pandemic in response to a request for proposals. There was a small structure on the property that was acquired for $1 and, with the help of Unistress Corp., it was demolished to make way for a new build.
"When COVID hit, it's a combination of we do a lot of work using volunteers under our trained construction and licensed staff, but without the ability to have volunteers, a couple of things happen. One is the cost of building, it went up, and then also the timeframe that it was going to take because we're just now really getting back into the swing of things of having volunteers," Valli explained.
"And then the rising cost of construction. I mean, when we originally priced this out we thought we'd be spending about $180,000. Right now it's looking like it'll be well over $350,000 and we're trying to sell it at an affordable price in the low ($200,000s) because we're trying to support people making 70 percent area median income. That's been a challenge."
The good news is Allegrone Construction has donated the labor for getting the bones of the house built and the rest will be done with volunteer labor. LP Adams Co., Berkshire Concrete Corp., and Complete Electrical Service are also participating and more businesses are expected to join.
"This is really a labor of love to just get this property," Valli said, explaining that a lot of the team lives in Dalton or in the hilltowns.
The goal is for Allegrone to turn it over to the organization in a few weeks.
Louis Allegrone said it was great to see everyone work together on the project and the company was very happy to be a part of it.
The organization will be putting in an application to the state Department of Housing and Community Development to start the lottery process for the home.
"We do participate in an equal opportunity lottery process so everyone has a chance to purchase this home," Valli said.
"And it's really based on best utilization of bedrooms and also making sure that they will be able to income qualify at the income guidelines that are set as well as being able to have an affordable mortgage, because we work with some of our mortgage lenders and, in this case, we might be using [the U.S. Department of Agriculture], we're not certain yet, to be able to provide the financing for homeowners."
The sale price is also determined by the DHCD based on current interest rates.
"It's a little bit bigger than our normal size ranches," Valli explained.
"And we did that specifically because we wanted to have a secondary bath that is more geared for if you need a larger accommodation for that but it's going to just really fit well in the neighborhood. I think it's going to be an olive green color."