NIAGARA FALLS – The first house rehabilitated by the Isaiah 61 Project, which provides construction skills training to the unemployed and underemployed, will hit the market near the end of the month.
A three-bedroom home at 2215 Whitney Ave. – which was purchased from the city for $500 – had been a dilapidated eyesore sitting off the tax rolls. After 18 months of work by program participants under the watchful eye of master plumbers and electricians, the house will be put up for sale in a few weeks, with open houses scheduled for July 25 and 27.
In total about 70 to 75 program participants had a hand in rehabilitating the structure.
“It needed to be totally gutted,” said Jim Haid, executive director of the organization.
After workers ripped out the broken and the unusable sections, the time came to rebuild the walls, windows, floors, furnace, trusses and a roof on the garage. The electrical wiring had to be completely redone. Workers also replaced doors, molding, light fixtures and kitchen cabinets.
The students obtained apprenticeship papers so they could perform the work under instructors from Orleans Niagara Board of Cooperative Educational Services.
About $40,000 worth of materials have been put into the home. If the work had been done by for-profit contractors, it would have cost about $80,000, Haid said.
Instead, the Isaiah 61 Project plans to seek a sale price of about $45,000.
The Isaiah 61 Project, which will graduate another 30 participants this month while bringing on a new class, has three more rehabilitation projects in the works in the city. It has partnered with the Highland Community Revitalization Committee on a yet-unidentified house in the North End.
To qualify to purchase the home, potential buyers must meet low- to moderate-income guidelines. Household assets may not exceed $30,000 and the income limits are: $35,600 for a one-person household; $40,650 for a two-person household; $45,750 for a three-person household; and $50,800 for a four-preson household.
The purchaser must also be the prime occupant of the house for five years, and must participate in a homebuyer education program.
Further detail is available on the Isaiah 61 Project’s website, at www.isaiah61niagarafalls.org/homebuyers.php.
Haid said he and the organization are thankful to all who have supported it so far and continue to do so, including the city, Orleans Niagara BOCES, as well as various banks and foundations.
Seth A. Piccirillo, director of the city’s Department of Community Development, noted that two years ago, nobody knew what the Isaiah 61 Project was. Piccirillo predicts it will continue to have a significant impact on the city’s future and credits the Oishei Foundation for providing grant funding to get the project started.
“Completion of the first Isaiah 61 house is proof that the idea works. A house is back on the tax roll, the block was improved and students received training,” Piccirillo said in an email.