Photo by Scott Franz
The Archuleta family, from left, is Brisha, 10, Hailey, 4, Shelby, 9, Levi and Amanda. The family moved into their new home built by Routt County’s Habitat for Humanity in December.
Steamboat Springs Seven months after her family moved from a cramped trailer into a new home built by Routt County’s Habitat for Humanity, Amanda Archuleta still vividly remembers how it all started.
“I was driving by the elementary school with my three daughters in the car when we first saw the construction equipment,” she said. “They were so excited that the groundbreaking was about to begin. A dream had finally come true.”
While holidays, birthday parties and movie nights have been held at the new home since the Archuletas moved in right before Christmas, they remember that it all started with empty rooms.
“There was nothing here the first night we slept in the house,” said Amanda’s husband, Levi. “But we’ve had lots of memories since then.”
In the days after they moved in, the Archuletas gathered in the living room and sat on beanbag and dining room chairs. The couch had yet to arrive. It was a slow move, but every piece of furniture that was carefully navigated into the house cemented the realization that the family had a place of its own.
“We’re still moving in,” Amanda Archuleta said Wednesday, noting the recliner still in storage. “It doesn’t matter, though, because we get to come home to this place every day.”
About a week after the home’s dedication July 23, the rooms inside were a far cry from the uncarpeted wooden frames of eight months ago. A leopard-patterned rug protected the new carpeting, and the family enjoys watching movies on a comfortable sofa. For their older daughters, Shelby, 9, and Brisha, 10, it doesn’t take long to come up with their favorite thing about the new house.
“Having my own room,” they responded almost unanimously. The two switch off sharing a room with their 4-year-old sister, Hailey.
Leif Myhre, the Habitat for Humanity construction manager who worked on the house, said it was gratifying to finally see the family move in.
“They had been living with relatives in a very cramped situation,” he said. “After a lot of good hard work and effort, it was great to see them and their three girls move in there.”
Myhre said Habitat, which had 5,294 home closings nationally last year, is looking to make a land purchase in Routt County to start another project. He said the need for fundraising and a decrease in volunteers in the county have made it more difficult to complete other projects such as the Archuleta home in a tough economy.
“There’s so much demand on people’s time in Routt County, especially in the resort areas, that it’s been difficult for us to establish the kind of repeat volunteers we need to finish a project and get the message out,” he said. “There is a need for safe, clean housing for folks that cannot afford to build a home themselves, and our mission is something that is worthwhile.”
Jody Patten, executive director of Routt County’s Habitat for Humanity, is hoping new programs the group will launch in the coming weeks will build the volunteer base and increase the number of projects. One program, A Brush with Kindness, will have groups of volunteers helping homeowners with exterior maintenance they cannot afford to do themselves.
Patten also said the group is looking to open a store in Steamboat Springs that would sell donated appliances to homeowners at reduced prices.
“We’re trying to get creative,” she said. “The biggest hurdles in being a nonprofit group are the land costs and the construction costs, but it’s exciting to think we could come up with something affordable for people with very low incomes that are either living in a trailer or renting a home that has too many people in it."