Renee Gaerlan: Painful process


Editor’s note: This letter is in regard to the article “Duplex done; nobody home” in the March 30 Steamboat Today.

Although it is true that home ownership is not for everyone, I have been told that people in the community think the “partner families” somehow did not do what was needed in order to move into Routt County Habitat for Humanity’s Riverside duplex. To the contrary, the only thing the Gaerlans did not do is sign a contract that dramatically varied from the agreed-upon terms that were set forth 24 months prior to completion of the duplex. The Kelly family still is fighting for its home. Neither family would have endured the painful process or completed more than the required 350 sweat-equity hours if the intended outcome was to not occupy the respective homes. If readers are at all interested in the details of how a military family with two small boys and a single mother of two teenage boys were duped, read the comment section online under the original story at

I have tried to keep my emotions at bay and find a lesson in all of this. My boy’s tiny handprints are painted inside the walls of the rooms that should have been theirs. My 86-year-old grandmother came up from Arizona and wrote a message in the hallway wall. Friends and family from all across the country who volunteered on the project for months posted well wishes. Every volunteer who I painted and pounded nails alongside signed their name. It made me feel good to know that the walls of our home would be filled with the hearts and hands of those who helped make it possible. This is not the outcome we would have ever expected from a Christian-based nonprofit organization and definitely not from members of the community I grew up in.

Renee Gaerlan

Steamboat Springs


Scott Wedel 3 years, 12 months ago

RC Habitat for Humanity's website still says they offer their partner families an interest free loan even as they are not offering that to these families.

One family simply does not qualify for an USDA because of an outstanding judgement. The judgement would be far less of an issue if RCHFH financed the family because RCHFH would hold the first mortgage and any judgement would be a second or lower. Tragic aspect for the family is that RCHFH accepted the family knowing these issues because it'd be okay if RCHFH financed the family.. But then when RCHFH decided not to finance with a zero percent loan then the family couldn't get financing. Pretty shameful change of policies by RChFH with devastating effects for a "partner family".

The difference between the USDA loan and the interest free loan from Habitat is an extra $265 a month or an increase of 45% for the other family.

There appears to be no dispute that Routt County Habitat For Humanity accepted these two partner families based upon much different expected pricing and financing than RCHFH would accept when the project was completed. And the financing offered now is not what RCHFH still says is how they finance their "partners".

Both families have provided documentation that RCHFH was aware of their financial issues and yett RCHFH allowed the families to continue working on "their" homes until dropping the bombshell upon completion that one family was essentially disqualified from buying and the other faced much different terms than expected.


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