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Developers donate affordable housing development in Washington to Habitat

January 11, 2019

WASHINGTON — An affordable housing complex near Lake Waramaug has a better chance of being completed faster now that Housatonic Habitat for Humanity is at the helm.

The developers of the Myfield development, Winston Fowlkes and Joseph Gitterman, donated the remaining eight lots to Habitat a few weeks ago, making it the largest land donation Housatonic Habitat for Humanity has received.

“It’s astounding,” said Fran Normann, executive director of Housatonic Habitat for Humanity. “It is a game changer for us.”

She added that they’re excited to continue Fowlkes and Gitterman’s vision.

Since the plan was approved about a decade ago, six houses have been built, five of which are classified as affordable.

Gitterman said he and Fowlkes decided to donate the project because they are in their 80s and wanted to hand it over to a group that shares their view and can get it done faster. Their realtor had suggested Habitat as a good fit for the donation.

“We’ve been at this for years,” Gitterman said. “The important thing from our point of view is the community is going to have families who work in the area in affordable housing and not be locked out of the area.”

All of the new houses will have two or three bedrooms and a garage to match the existing single-family homes there.

The donation also includes all of the infrastructure — septic, water lines, conduits and a road.

“That’s a big leg up,” said Todd Dietzman, Habitat’s construction manager. “There’s still a lot of work to be done but a lot is done. It’s a canvas, but it’s framed. It’s ready for paint.”

Normann said the infrastructure is expensive to install and by removing that piece, it will allow them to put more into the houses themselves.

She said they need to work out a timeline for the construction but estimates one or two homes will be built each year.

“We’re going to be able to help quite a few families in a concentrated area,” Dietzman said.

Normann said it’s important that there is already an affordable community there so that all of the families can support each other as first-time home buyers. There will also be a playground because it’s expected to attract working families with children.

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