Building hope

By Coconino Community College

An Arizona college joins forces with Habitat for Humanity

It’s a perfect partnership.

Coconino Community College (CCC) needs to offer real-world experience to the students in the construction technology management (CTM) program. Habitat for Humanity (HFH) of Northern Arizona needs workers to help build affordable homes for Flagstaff.

In late May, leaders for the two organizations got together and made the arrangement formal. CCC CTM students will help Habitat for Humanity build the first of, with hope, many “starter homes” for the Flagstaff community beginning this fall.

“We want to encourage workforce development and retention to keep that talent in the community,” said Eric Wolverton, executive director of HFH. “Starter homes are an asset that keep giving. They will be a community asset serving multiple families.”

Starter homes are homes with smaller “footprints” – approximately 350 square feet, Wolverton said. Similar to studio living, the homes will also have a full kitchen and bath. The purpose of the homes is to give residents an opportunity to get into homeownership and save money in the process.

The homes will be made available from HFH to qualified applicants.

“The heart of our college is committed to advancing program opportunities for our students while also serving the needs of the community,” said Lisa Blank, dean of CCC career and technical education. “This project embodies that dedication and positions Flagstaff as a leader in solving complex problems by leveraging partnerships.”

Kenneth Myers, lead CTM faculty, said that he has been trying to partner with HFH for several years, and the new opportunity with “starter homes” was the perfect project for the CCC students.
“That small scale provides more opportunities for the students,” Myers said, adding that the students will be creating, from a template, structural panels for the home in the newly remodeled Del E. Webb shop at CCC’s Fourth Street campus. Those panels, once constructed, will then be moved to the site of the build and the home will be constructed out of the panels, much like a jigsaw puzzle.

The project will be part of the college’s Building Methods I and II courses, which occur over the fall and spring semester.

“The job experience is going to be extremely helpful,” Myers said.

The students will be learning real-world skills in a real-world build, Myers said. That experience is invaluable for employers in the Flagstaff community, all of whom are continually seeking workers with skills that allow them to begin on the job immediately, without further training. Additionally, the students will be learning about what it means to give back, to be of service, to their community by participating in a HFH build.

Blank said the courses lead to industry certificates and college credit, in the event the students wish to pursue associate or bachelor’s degrees in the future.
“We’re excited because it’s not only a model for Flagstaff, but also the state and maybe even the country,” Blank said.

Wolverton agreed because prices for single-family homes continue to rise, and the “starter home” model allows for home ownership to a larger section of the population. And the homes, once a homeowner has grown beyond it, can be resold again and again and offer a “hand up” into home ownership to others.

“It’s going to be a lot bigger than a framing class,” Myers said.

He’s got plans to include students in cement work, plumbing, electrical, heating, ventilation, air conditioning and interior-finishing processes of building homes – as well as following the process from the planning and permitting process through to home inspections.

Wolverton said that the goal is to have the first home built by late April or early May 2022. The cost of the build is being supported by generous donations to HFH. The site for the first build is still being determined.

This article originally appeared here.

Coconino Community College

is located in Flagstaff, Arizona.

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