Work in progress: Central Delaware Habitat battles through rising costs

By Mike Finney
Posted 6/27/22

DOVER — It has been a quiet start to 2022 for the Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity due to inflation and its effect on purchasing home construction materials.

It is quite a contrast for …

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Work in progress: Central Delaware Habitat battles through rising costs


DOVER — It has been a quiet start to 2022 for the Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity due to inflation and its effect on purchasing home construction materials.

It is quite a contrast for the nonprofit organization that has built or sold more than 80 affordable homes to first-time homeowners and housing more than 300 adults and children in Kent County since starting its mission in 1990.

In what was music to Central Delaware Habitat Executive Director Tim Bailey’s ears, the hammers could be heard banging into nails again over recent weeks as volunteers began to build the foundation for the Olivieri-Lamb family that went under construction at 101 S. Queen St. in downtown Dover two weeks ago.

Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity officials joined the Olivieri-Lamb family for what was its first official wall-raising of the year last Wednesday.

“The Olivieri-Lamb family has been very patient,” Mr. Bailey said. “It’s just a very difficult time in the world, the state of Delaware, for Kent County and the city of Dover. I’m just so happy we got here. A lot of hands come together to build a single home.

“When we raise this wall, you will see a lot of logos on a sign. They may seem like just logos, but those organizations have contributed gifts of material, labor, money and many of the resources we need to build these homes.”

To help with getting the Olivieri-Lamb family home started, Central Delaware Habitat received a $15,000 grant from the Wells Fargo Foundation as part of its nationwide initiative to help low-to-moderate income families build and improve their homes across the U.S.

Mr. Bailey said every single dollar that is contributed helps.

“The economy’s been affecting us for the last year-and-a-half or two years, but now it’s really, really starting to sink in and everything costs so much money,” said Mr. Bailey. “Just to pay the bills on the first phase of these houses we’re talking $40,000 to $50,000 just for lumber and foundation.

“We have our hands full. We have to bring more people together and ask for more money, but in that way, we have been fairly blessed. We’ve received a lot of support from a lot of people during the last year, but we’re so excited to be building houses again.”

Mr. Bailey added that Habitat has a couple of other houses that are under construction on South Queen Street that they hope to finish by the end of August and are planning to start four more houses on South New Street very soon.

He added that he could not do anything without the dedication and support he gets from his staff at Habitat.

“This is just one part of a great staff that works a lot of hours, a lot of six day weeks, a lot of evenings, to spread our word to ask people for help and support so that we can get to a day like this,” Mr. Bailey said.

Raising a wall on Queen Street

The Olivieri-Lamb family of Esteban, his wife Jackie and daughter Estefanie, after living in public housing for many years, were elated to see the foundation put into place for their future last Wednesday.

“I remember a day that seems like forever ago that we surprised this (Olivieri-Lamb) family to let them know they were approved, and here we are finally being able to start on this house,” Mr. Bailey said.

The new home will be a 1,344-square-foot ranch house with an attached garage, three bedrooms, two bathrooms and it will be ADA compliant and handicap accessible.

“I’m really excited because we’ve never had our own house before,” said Estefanie Olivieri-Lamb, who graduated from Dover High School a couple of weeks ago. “We always lived in apartments, and we wanted a house, so we’re all very excited and happy to have a house — finally.”

Esteban Olivieri-Lamb opened last Wednesday’s ceremony with a prayer of thanks.

He said that being able to say they will finally own something that is going to be theirs is a great satisfaction and accomplishment for the family.

Revitalizing Dover one block at a time

Habitat’s goals in Delaware’s capital city are to increase homeownership, improve the housing stock, reduce crime and increase economic development.

“We keep coming back to the city of Dover largely in part because of our relationship with the city and the support that we get from them,” Mr. Bailey said.

Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen said he appreciates all the work the nonprofit has done to revitalize downtown Dover.

“We are so excited as mayor and council of the efforts that Habitat has put into revitalizing our downtown area and our city by building a lot of houses and creating a lot of homes,” the mayor said.

Fourth District City Councilman David Anderson agreed.

“Thank you for the partnership that we have, and may it continue to grow,” he said. “The partnership with Habitat has been so important.

“The community is transforming. People are taking ownership. Crime is down. It’s been a beautiful partnership and we look forward to it continuing.”

Mr. Bailey passed the credit on to his staff and especially to his hardworking volunteers.

“Our volunteers are out most Wednesdays and Saturdays, helping us build each and every one of our homes,” he said. “A lot of them have been doing it for a lot of years.

“A lot of the houses you see around (downtown Dover) were hand built from the ground up by these fine folks.”

That includes the Olivieri-Lamb family, who hope to move into their new home at around Christmas time.