A group of students from Yale and other local universities assembled Saturday morning at 453 Shelton Ave. in Hamden with a purpose.
Members of local college chapters of Habitat for Humanity joined other volunteers to begin work on a house that they will renovate from an old, abandoned structure into a new, livable home for a low-income family.
The house is the fourth to be renovated as part of the “Collegiate Build” program organized by the Yale chapter, and was donated by the city of Hamden, which also provided considerable financial support.
Volunteers at the groundbreaking ceremony were joined by several Hamden city councilmen and an assistant to Hamden Mayor Carl Amento. The assistant said the mayor has expressed confidence that the renovation will have a positive impact on the community and is looking forward to the increased interaction between Hamden and New Haven that the project will bring about.
Under the guidance of Habitat construction workers, Yale students will work alongside students from Southern Connecticut State University, Quinnipiac University, and the University of New Haven throughout the school year to rehabilitate the residence.
“I am absolutely thrilled to start work on a new Collegiate Build and I cannot wait to get this house going,” said Rachel Serlen ’04, a steering committee member for Yale’s Habitat chapter. “I think the Collegiate Builds are an amazing way for Yale students to get involved in the community in a meaningful, hands-on way.”
Yale students who belong to the Habitat chapter will work on the housing projects up to three times a week and also help Habitat for Humanity by raising funds, selecting sites and designing building plans.
Dan Kahn ’05, who did not attend the groundbreaking but said he was interested in the project, was enthusiastic.
“It’s wonderful that they’re helping a family in need out,” he said. “They are aiding our community, a truly noble goal.”
The international Habitat program constructs and sells homes to low-income families through zero-interest mortgages, Stosh Mintek, publicity director for the Yale Habitat chapter, said. Buyers are required to contribute hundreds of hours of labor on the construction of their houses and others. Families must also make a down payment and monthly no-interest mortgage payments.
Yale’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity is student-run and student-led, and constructs homes, educates the campus and New Haven community about Habitat and affordable housing, and raises funds, Mintek added in a written statement.