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Mar 25, 2009 4:15 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Work is set to begin on first Habitat home in Westhampton Beach

Mar 25, 2009 4:15 PM

The concrete foundation that rests under a bright blue tarp at the end of Avon Court in Westhampton Beach Village does not look like much right now. But this Saturday, Habitat for Humanity volunteers will help raise the first wall of a three-bedroom ranch that will serve as the future home for a family of four.

Saturday marks the ceremonial “wall-raising” for the future home of Cathy Strand-O’Shea, a keyboard specialist with the New York State Department of Transportation. The ceremony requires that a group of about 25 volunteers join the future home occupants in raising the first wall of the home, marking the official start of construction on the house.

Members of the Hamptons Interfaith Council, led by Ora Belle “Ridgie” Barnett, as well as officials with Astoria Federal Savings Bank and Riverhead Building Supply will attend the ceremony. Those three organizations have donated an estimated $100,000 to help with the construction of the home.

“Without Habitat there’s no way a single, low-income mother would be able to have a home,” Ms. Strand-O’Shea said, explaining that there are few affordable housing opportunities on Long Island, especially on the East End.

Ms. Strand-O’Shea, who worked as a substitute teacher last year in the Hampton Bays School District, expects to move into her Habitat for Humanity home—which is the first of its kind ever built in Westhampton Beach—before the end of the year. Construction is expected to take between six and seven months. She plans to live in the home with her three sons, whose names she declined to disclose for personal reasons. They now live with Ms. Strand-O’Shea’s mother.

“Obviously, we’ll have more room to spread around in, and the kids will have their own space,” Ms. Strand-O’Shea said about her future home. “It will provide independence to the family. We will not have to rely on other people to house us.”

Though her home will be the first Habitat house built in Westhampton Beach, it is not the first of its kind on the East End, according to Les Scheinfeld, the associate director for Habitat for Humanity of Suffolk County, which has offices in Middle Island. There are two Habitat homes on Peter’s Lane in Quiogue that were built in 2001 and 2005, and one in Bridgehampton that was constructed in 2006, he said.

In addition, Habitat officials hope to eventually build a second home in Westhampton Beach. The non-profit still owns a piece of land on Mickie’s Way, which was donated to Habitat in 2006 but has been tied up in litigation after the village denied the group’s request to build a home there on the grounds that it was too big for the 6,000-square-foot lot. The village has been trying to swap that parcel with a vacant 17,000-square-foot property that it owns on Guldi Drive.

No decisions have been made on the proposed land swap, according to Westhampton Beach attorney Bo Bishop.

Habitat for Humanity boasts 128 homes in Suffolk County with the majority located in North Bellport, Central Islip, Bay Shore, Mastic and Shirley, according to Mr. Scheinfeld.

The Avon Court house will feature an unfinished basement, an eat-in-kitchen, and a living room, Mr. Scheinfeld said. He added that the design of the house will fit in with the surrounding neighborhood.

Habitat for Humanity received the Avon Court parcel from Westhampton Beach in 2006, Ms. Barnett said, explaining that Suffolk County deeded the land over to the village in 2000. Since that time, the housing agency has been searching for the perfect occupant for the home.

“We were trying to find somebody from the Westhampton Beach area,” Ms. Barnett said, adding that Habitat has several requirements when selecting future homeowners. “They need to have a minimum income of $28,000, and a maximum income of $47,000,” she said about potential applicants.

Ms. Strand-O’Shea, who was selected for the Habitat home about a year ago, said she had a gut feeling that the Westhampton Beach home would be hers one day. She explained that she called Habitat officials every month for an entire year before being selected.

“I knew I would have the Westhampton Beach home,” Ms. Strand-O’Shea said, adding that she prayed every day for a home. “For the life of me, I just knew God had that house for me. There was no question [that] it wasn’t for me.”

Still, Ms. Strand-O’Shea will not be getting her home for free. She must help build her new home—as part of the “sweat equity” part of the deals offered by Habitat—and will have to pay off the $100,000 cost of the home through monthly mortgage payments.

“I’ll have a mortgage payment that’s affordable, with zero-percent interest,” Ms. Strand-O’Shea said.

She must also complete 300 hours of “sweat equity” and already has spent time helping build other Habitat homes in Babylon, Shirley and Brentwood.

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Isnt this the former daughter-in-law of the O'Sheas of O'Sheas Funeral Home in Hampton Bays? I
By Hampton (50), Westhampton on Mar 27, 09 8:01 AM
Dear 'Hampton' not sure what your point is.
By Local Mom (3), Hampton Bays on Mar 28, 09 5:15 PM
Even if she were the former daughter-in -law of the O'Shea family, what difference does that make? The operative words being "former" and "daughter-in-law". Just because her former in-laws have money, doesn't mean that she does. I've been a Habitat home-owner for the past 8 years, and I can tell you first hand that their application process is very thorough, and has only gotten stricter over the years. As a single mom, with an entry-level state job, Ms. Stand-O'Shea more than qualifies for a home... ...more
By looliemom (1), East Patchogue on Apr 19, 09 9:58 PM
Strict application process;
1. Have complete lack of shame
2. Still have entry level income after 20+ yrs in workplace
3. Irresponsibly Produce multple offspring with multiple/rotating cast of partners
Then, if you are one of the luck such people, receive a house in a charming Eastern Long Island ocean front Village at 1/5 to 1/10th of market value which you can sell at a considerable profit someday.
Seriously, keep this crap in Mastic, Shirley, North Bellport
By smacw (240), New York on Jan 8, 10 11:14 AM
What do I have to do to get 0% interest loan?
By smacw (240), New York on Jan 7, 10 7:37 AM