Berthoud native Chloe Staley loves Habitat’s “a place to call home”
By Shelley Widhalm
Chloe Staley of Berthoud didn’t believe she would ever own a home until she became a part of the Habitat for Humanity program.
In April Staley moved with her two children into the Berthoud Habitat for Humanity neighborhood on Fourth Street.
“It just changes everything,” Staley said. “You have a fallback. You have a place to call home. It’s so cliché to say, ‘to have a place to call home,’ but it’s incredible, especially for someone who didn’t think it was possible.”
Staley began applying for a Habitat home in 2012 or 2013 and was accepted into the program as a partner family in early 2017. Her three-bedroom home was completed the month she moved in, with the house blessing in May.
“We have a number of people who apply but don’t qualify,” said Jan Dowker, executive director of Berthoud Habitat. “There is a significant application process they have to go through, so we help them have a successful homeownership. Our goal in building homes in Berthoud is to continue to build strength, resilience and self-reliance in partnership with our families who need affordable housing.”
To meet the program criteria Staley put in 250 sweat-equity hours working on her home and the homes of her neighbors, plus a few more hours, and she took financial and homeownership classes.
“Chloe has been an amazing partner family in going above and beyond,” Dowker said. “She’s donated so many more hours than the 250 sweat-equity hours that are required. She continues to volunteer to help other families. She is a great example of what Habitat for Humanity strives for in building successful homeownership. Everybody loves her and her kids.”
Staley’s house was built through a partnership with the Geometry in Construction program at Loveland High School that teaches students math and homebuilding skills. The students worked on her house, which at first didn’t have a partner family, from August 2016 to May 2017. A month later it was moved to the Berthoud Habitat neighborhood on Fourth Street, so AmeriCorps volunteers could help with the finishing work during the Build-A-Thon 2017.
“It feels pretty awesome. It’s nice to have our foundation built,” Staley said.
Staley, a Berthoud native, was a teen mom of 16 when she had her daughter, Gabby, and later she had her son Isaac. She’d dropped out of school but earned her General Educational Development degree and attended some college. She worked in several types of jobs; including food service, debt collections and insurance, and now is a bank teller.
“Being a single parent and a lower-income family in general, it was just so hard to find any housing around,” Staley said. “You want to be out on your own, because you need to set up a foundation for your own kids.”
Before moving into her home, Staley lived with her father, and her children had to share a bedroom.
By being part of Habitat, Staley learned about the physical and financial aspects of homeownership. She helped with cleaning, caulking, painting and tiling to build her home, along with laying sod and landscaping, learning several skills in the process that showed her how to become more self-sufficient.
“I learned how to put things together as a homeowner,” Staley said. “If anything needs to be repaired, I can handle it.”
Staley also took a financial literacy class that helped her learn how to save and invest.
“I took the Dave Ramsey class as a requirement for Habitat partners,” Staley said. “I learned different types of things you can invest in. I learned if you manage your money successfully, you can be successful even if you make under $30,000. It didn’t seem possible, and now it seems like I’m experiencing it. It takes a lot of willpower. …. It’s discipline.”
Staley’s children immediately fell in love with their new home as soon as they saw it, Staley said.
“They love it. They didn’t take any time adjusting to it,” she said.
Staley also loves her home.
“I couldn’t have asked as much as the house is, as much it provides,” Staley said. “The whole house in itself is such a blessing.”
Berthoud Habitat, which received approval in 2000 as an affiliate, aims to build four homes every three years. The first home was completed in 2003, and Staley’s home is the 11th home. Habitat is working on the 12th home and expects to complete it this year.
“They care, the people who run it,” Staley said. “They are doing this out of the willingness of their heart.”
Staley finds that care from the Habitat volunteers to be important.
“You really don’t get that kind of thoughtfulness anymore,” Staley said. “The houses, they are very important. Learning about homeownership, that’s important. The caring-ness of the people who work for Habitat probably trumps it.”
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