Habitat reaches a milestone

By Lina Wu
Posted 9/25/19

For Mark Stellwag, M&T Bank regional President, helping Habitat for Humanity of Greater Newburgh improve homes is more than just volunteering. It’s an opportunity to go back to the past. …

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Habitat reaches a milestone

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For Mark Stellwag, M&T Bank regional President, helping Habitat for Humanity of Greater Newburgh improve homes is more than just volunteering. It’s an opportunity to go back to the past. Stellwag has personally worked on five to six house improvements. Stellwag is a Newburgh native, and working on the William Street project brings back fond memories of his childhood.

“We used to come down here. You know, walking with friends through here,” said Stellwag. Stellwag recalls fond memories of spending junior high in and about the neighborhood. “ So I know this community well. Just to see it come back and the effort they’re putting into it, it just makes you feel great. It makes you want to get more involved on that.”

M&T Bank is one of many companies that have partnered with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Newburgh. M&T also sponsored Habitat’s 90th and 100th house. M&T comes out to three to four of Habitat’s house restorations a year. Habitat has been working on improving homes all over Newburgh for families to live in at an affordable rate. This October, Habitat will celebrate its 20th year, and 100th house.

Two Tuesdays ago, Habitat celebrated the dedication of their 97th house off of route 9W and Robinson Ave. A few months ago, Habitat finished 128 William Street and successfully sold the house off. 126, 124, and 118 William Street are currently in the process of being completed. On October 5, these houses will be dedicated during their official 100 house dedication ceremony. In addition, members of the public will be able to tour these dwellings.

The properties were acquired from the Newburgh Community Land Bank. Through their partnership with Newburgh Community Land Bank, Habitat has been able to do complete renovations and transform dwellings into single family home ownership opportunities.

“We’re hoping to still continue at the eight houses a year pace. We don’t want to slow down,” said Julie Stanton, fund development manager for Habitat. Stanton is optimistic that Habitat will see many more years of success. Stanton says Habitat has had a positive reaction from the community and the government.

“It makes a big difference for the families moving in because they’re moving into a safe environment,” said Stanton. “This project is wonderful because it’s really transforming this entire neighborhood.”

For Stanton, the pride and excitement of the families is the best part of participating in the house restorations.

In order to become a homeowner of one of the restored houses, one must fill out an application on Habitat’s website. After the application is filled out, a review committee reviews the application. The committee isn’t given the identity of the homeowner. Homeowners take classes like pathstone classes, and other classes necessary to learn how to own a home.

Stanton recalls at the last house dedication, the homeowner saying, “I plan to be here forever, this is a lifelong dream.”

Compared to other Habitats throughout the nation, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Newburgh has lasted longer than most. “We’ve seen some that have gone out of business in certain communities, and that have struggled to get one [house] done a year,” said Stellwag. “It’s a testament to what these people do, from management to employees involved.” Stellwag finished, “It’s wonderful.”

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