More than a dozen members of the United States Marines, Navy and Coast Guard traded their uniforms for hard hats on Thursday to help Habitat for Humanity NYC build a home in Queens.
The service members, visiting the city for Fleet Week, provided additional manpower as the team began to transform a vacant lot at 101-64 132nd St. in South Richmond Hill into the framework for a new affordable home for a low-income family.
“The Fleet Week build is one of the best volunteer days we have all year,” said Matthew Dunbar, vice president of external affairs for Habitat for Humanity NYC. “The service members are so dedicated and hardworking.”
The nonprofit organization acquired the lot from the New York City Housing Authority, with the help of city and state partners, as part of a portfolio of 23 homes in Queens and Brooklyn. Most of the projects have required gut renovations, but the home at this particular site was so dilapidated — left vacant for about 15 years — that they had to demolish it and start from scratch, Dunbar said.
Once the new home is built, Habitat for Humanity NYC works with the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development to make it available via the affordable housing lottery for homeownership. The family chosen to purchase the home often works with Habitat for Humanity NYC to secure an affordable mortgage, Dunbar said.
“These places have been a blight on the community for so long,” he added. “So, not only is the future homeowner benefiting, it also serves the neighborhood and community by eradicating that blight from the block.”
This is the seventh year that Habitat for Humanity NYC has teamed up with service members visiting for Fleet Week. Dunbar said the projects they work on often end up several days ahead of schedule.
“It’s always a pleasure to have them out. They give up one of their days in the city to come out and help New Yorkers in need,” he added.