Harry Anthony, a soft-spoken man from Mineral, has been living in a dilapidated house, with caving-in floors and a partially collapsed roof, for over 25 years. Now, thanks to some help from people who know Harry and the conditions he’s living in, a local group is stepping up to help him improve his housing and his life.
Anthony has lived for over 25 years in the house his mother left him in the 1970s. He says he never married and never had kids; it’s always been him and his dog, Sammy. After years of long hours and meager wages as a farm worker, the house had fallen into a state of disrepair that only worsened over time. More recently, living on a fixed income, Anthony’s options for building a new home on his own were non-existent.
With conditions to the point that residing in the house is no longer an option, Louisa County’s Habitat for Humanity chapter has found a design that can be built quickly and inexpensively, and help serve as a prototype as the group moves forward in its fight against the housing crisis.
Susan Goetz, chapter director, says that combating the level of both substandard housing and homelessness that exist in the area means thinking outside the box.
“I wouldn’t be afraid to use the term ‘crisis,’” Goetz said. “We’re seeing a lot of people’s homes, especially with the elderly and disabled who can’t keep up with the maintenance, falling into disrepair.”
The current project is a 416-square-foot, two-room home, with a 100-square-foot front porch. The design is similar to the trendy “Tiny Homes” seen on television and in Home and Garden magazines, where minimalist features are coupled with lower material needs to save money, reduce waste, and shorten construction times. The estimated building time, Goetz said, depends largely on volunteer amounts and is somewhat weather-dependent.
Ron Bricker, who serves on the board for Habitat for Humanity in Louisa, says that an influx of “new blood” into the organization is helping them take a look at how they do things, so as to improve how many people the organization can help with their limited financial and human resources.
“We’ve been taking a more strategic approach to what we’re doing,” Bricker said. “And addressing output to try and help more people in the future.”
To do this, both Goetz and Bricker say that they need volunteers.
To read the entire story, see the Nov. 23 edition of The Central Virginian.