East Hampton Town will soon be home to the first Habitat for Humanity of Suffolk home in the Hamptons. Located on Hartley Boulevard in Springs, the project will begin to rise when Habitat for Humanity of Suffolk, Inc. (HFHS) (Habitat Suffolk) gathers more than 30 executives from Long Island companies, local community leaders and the selected homeowners—a local couple, Anthony LaFountain and Cheyenne Banville, volunteer first responders at the Springs Fire Department who live in Springs and work in East Hampton—for the historic moment of raising the walls on October 5.
The home is Habitat Suffolk’s 204th in Suffolk County—the organization builds five to eight houses annually—and will begin its creation with the hands-on efforts of executives of the companies that helped fund it through Habitat Suffolk’s CEO Build and Blitz Build (CEO Blitz/Build) programs.
“Habitat for Humanity of Suffolk is thrilled to now serve all of Suffolk County. This particular CEO/Blitz Build house makes an important statement about the need for affordable housing everywhere. Communities such as East Hampton depend on first responders and service workers to function and thrive,” says Lee Silberman, Chief Executive Officer & Executive Director, Habitat for Humanity of Suffolk.
“We could not be happier to build a home for two local first responders who could not otherwise afford to remain in their community without our help,” Silberman continues. “We look forward to cooperating with the Town of East Hampton on future projects to increase the stock of affordable housing. We are also grateful to our corporate sponsors and proud to partner with Ben Krupinski Builder, which is helping us to build this home.”
Ray Harden of the East Hampton–based Ben Krupinski Builder with fellow principal Stratton Schellinger grew up in the area and are donating their company’s time and expertise to oversee the home’s construction.
“There is no better feeling than helping a couple like this to get into their dream house, but even more, seeing them stay, and own their own home, in East Hampton,” says Harden.
Although best known for luxury homebuilding, Ben Krupinski Builder is equally distinguished for notable community projects in the Hamptons, including constructing The Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill, renovating Guild Hall—Center for the Visual and Performing Arts in East Hampton, building the Children’s Wing of the East Hampton Library, rebuilding Scoville Community Hall in Amagansett and restoring the George Fowler House in Springs.
“We decided to partner on this project when we first heard about it in February. Since July, we’ve been hands-on and secured time and/or materials from around 15 other companies. From top to bottom, all of us will have spent nearly a thousand hours building the 1800-square-foot house. We look forward to the couple enjoying their first Thanksgiving, of what we hope will be many, in their new home.”
The Blitz Build dimension of the project requires construction to be completed by end-October, three weeks from the walls being raised on October 5. Designed by Jack Rosebery of Rosebery Architectural Studio, the 1800-square-foot single level home features four bedrooms and one bathroom, plus a basement and garage, and will go up with the help of contractors donating their time and talents.
HFHS homes are appraised by an independent appraiser and then sold at market value to the new homeowner. To make the home more affordable, HFHS makes up the difference between the owner’s affordable mortgage and the purchase price through a second mortgage, from Habitat Suffolk, that will have no payments due unless the home is sold or rented. The HFHS application process for this home in East Hampton garnered 30-40 applications from across Suffolk County.
Applicants must demonstrate the ability to meet financial requirements around income, credit and savings, showing they can take on home ownership responsibly. Finalists are interviewed by up to 12 members of the HFHS Family Selection Committee to confirm their genuine intent to live in the house, work locally and give back to Habitat Suffolk by helping to build homes for others in need. Two to three finalists are recommended to the board of directors, which makes the final selection.
Through grants, donations and beneficial loan terms, Habitat Suffolk aims for the new homeowners to spend no more than one third of their income on a mortgage, local taxes and home-owner insurance. In Suffolk County, it is not uncommon for households to spend half of their income on housing, with little remaining to cover food, clothing and healthcare. Now impacted by the effect of COVID-19, more families are facing reduced salaries, loss of income and overcrowded living situations, making their connection to Habitat Suffolk more meaningful and urgent.
“Many local fire departments are losing young volunteer members because we cannot afford the cost of living on the Island,” said LaFountain, who was born and raised in Springs, volunteers as an EMT and firefighter with Springs Fire Department, and was selected with his partner and fellow EMT Cheyenne Banville to be the home’s owners.
“Volunteering as EMTs and giving back to our community are very important to us. That’s why Cheyenne and I jumped at the idea of also volunteering to help build homes,” he continued. “We are forever grateful to Habitat Suffolk and the kindness of all those who will help fund and build our new home, allowing us to live in our community, continue to volunteer in the fire department and start a family together.”
For more information, visit habitatsuffolk.org.