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home : features : community February 6, 2016

6/12/2014 7:52:00 AM
Habitat for Humanity's solar homes help people, environment
The Benavides family has a new solar home in Prescott Valley, thanks to Habitat for Humanity.
Photo courtesy Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier
The Benavides family has a new solar home in Prescott Valley, thanks to Habitat for Humanity.
Photo courtesy Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier

Tom Scanlon
Special to the Tribune

PRESCOTT VALLEY, Arizona - With the temperature pushing 90 and not a cloud in the sky, folks gathered at a new Constance Drive home huddled in the shade of a garage.

It was apt, as this Prescott Area Habitat for Humanity (PAHH) home features solar panels.

As Erick and Shara Benavides prepared to share celebratory cake, the parents of six children also shared that the roof solar panels are the metaphoric icing on the cake of the new house.

"The solar is amazing," said Shara. "That's one of the bonuses."

Landing a brand-new, five-bedroom home was an emotional experience for the family. "It's everything," said Shara. "It's a new beginning. It's a stable home for our kids."

Shara said she and her husband and children have been staying with Shara's mother for the last year, and bounced around from one rental to another before that. The Benavides kids are Tye, 15; Jasmine, 13; Colby, 11; Jonathan, 8; Mia, 5; and Sofia, who celebrates her first birthday on June 20.

Through the PAHH program, the Benavides were able to take out a $145,000 mortgage - the house likely would be worth 20 to 30 percent more on the open market - with just $1,000 down.

And the big kicker: The interest rate on their 30-year loan is 0 percent.

They worked for this package, as the family put in 700 hours of required "sweat equity," working alongside Habitat for Humanity volunteers.

Erick Benavides is a trained construction worker, and he literally put a roof over his children's heads.

The solar system was provided at no charge by Sun Valley Solar Solutions. It likely will save this family of eight thousands of dollars in electric bills over time (Sun Valley Solar estimates the family will save $750 per year).

This was the 72nd home PAHH has built for low-to-moderate-income families, and the third PAHH home that features a solar system. "We have a house in Chino Valley that's completely off the grid," said Miriam Haubrich, executive director of PAHH.

About 50 people crowded into the new Benavides home on Tuesday afternoon for a dedication ceremony. Tom Peters read from the New Testament (Matthew 7:24): "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock."

Erick and Shara Benavides thanked the Prescott Area Habitat for Humanity volunteers, who have been the rock for 70-plus families.

"This is amazing," Shara Benavides said, as she wiped away tears. "We are just so blessed! So blessed."

To volunteer or donate to the Prescott Area Habitat for Humanity, call 445-8003, ext. 14.

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