$50,000 Gives Back Sponsorship Helps Launch “Starter Home” Program in Flagstaff
FLAGSTAFF, ARIZ — The Arizona Lottery’s “Gives Back” program has teamed up with Habitat for Humanity of Northern Arizona (HFHNA) to help in their mission to build houses for Flagstaff residents struggling to find homes they can call their own during Arizona’s ongoing affordable housing crisis. The first “Starter Home” owner, Tucker Usher, was recently selected to purchase the home through HFHNA’s Starter Home program.
$50,000 from the Arizona Lottery’s Gives Back program supported the construction of this inaugural Starter Home, located on the corner of Butler Avenue and O’Leary Street. HFHNA, the Arizona Lottery, Flagstaff Mayor Becky Daggett, along with project partners, sponsors, and other community leaders gathered there to celebrate Tucker and his new home during a Key Dedication Ceremony on Thursday, January 26.
The “Starter Home” program tackles some of the major obstacles to home ownership for individuals who otherwise would not be able to qualify for a home loan. This affordable housing model in Arizona was developed in response to the City of Flagstaff’s declared Housing Emergency.
In order to apply to HFHNA’s Starter Home program, a family must make between 50 and 80% of the area median income. Once accepted, they are required to make a modest down payment of $1,000 and take on an interest-free loan that will maintain monthly payment amounts at or below $1,000.
Tucker, a single dad, is now able to get back on his feet and provide a loving home for his 10-year-old daughter. In the past, Tucker weathered drug addiction and difficult living situations where his basic needs were not being met. While maintaining his sobriety, Tucker was able to become the store manager of a local thrift shop in Flagstaff and turn his life around. After hearing of the HFHNA program through a customer of the store he manages, Tucker was able to apply and later be selected to purchase the home.
“Words can’t describe the feeling of amazement,” said Tucker. “The first thing I am going to do is to make it really homey for me and for my daughter, so she has a place to call home when she comes to visit.
The Arizona Lottery and its “Give Back” Sponsorship program is proud to play a major role in the beginning of this Starter Home project, as it supports the efforts of so many of our state mandated beneficiaries.
“This Starter Home project touches on so many things that the Arizona Lottery supports,” said Arizona Lottery Public Information Officer John Gilliland. “Environmental Conservation through sustainability. Higher Education through the Coconino County Community College’s involvement in this house. Economic Development and Health and Human Services, as this construction creates jobs and this affordable home helps to keep a valued member of your community employed in your community.”
Designed and engineered in Flagstaff by a cohort of community partners, the 500-square-foot Starter Homes are purposefully designed, simple, efficient, stand-alone homes that build equity quickly for low-to-moderate income homeowners and create long-term, affordable housing that will serve multiple households for decades to come. A successful Starter Home neighborhood will be an example for similar programs in Coconino County and across the state.
With community support, HFHNA is able to continue this program and provide more homes for other Flagstaff residents impacted by the housing crisis. A private developer recently donated 2.7 acres of land within a master-planned community to be used specifically for the Starter Home program. Habitat expects to build approximately 40 homes on this site over the next five years. Funding from a variety of sources is needed to complete this next phase of homes.
After several years living in their Starter Homes, these families will sell them back to Habitat for Humanity of Northern Arizona and use the equity savings to purchase conventional homes. Habitat for Humanity of Northern Arizona will then offer the Starter Homes for sale to new qualifying families, sustaining the program for generations of homebuyers.
“We want to try to serve as many people as possible by helping them achieve the American dream of homeownership. Low-income people everywhere need affordable homes that function as a savings program and provide a hand-up into conventional housing and lending,” said Habitat Executive Director Eric Wolverton.
To learn more about the Starter Homes or to donate, visit www.habitatflagstaff.org/our-homes.