Habitat for Humanity hammers home on a trio of Glens Falls houses

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habitat for humanity glens falls

Wilton resident Lisa Silvanic hammers nails into a window on one of two houses being constructed on Hovey Street in Glens Falls, N.Y. It’s her first time volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, but she’s ready to come and lend a hand again, whether here or somewhere else in the North Country. (Photo: Jay Petrequin)

GLENS FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Nestled in the neighborhoods of the city’s west side, near Glens Falls Hospital and the Hudson River, there’s a small, dead-end street that’s been going through quite a lot of commotion.

The hammering and scraping are coming from Hovey Street, a stub of a road off of Woodlawn Avenue, where one of the road’s few homes sat abandoned for years, before it and some land next door got eyed for a new purpose.

Now, a once-abandoned house has been knocked down, replaced with a new home already occupied by a family chosen by Habitat for Humanity of Northern Saratoga, Warren and Washington Counties. Two more were still under construction on a rainy Wednesday.

habitat for humanity glens falls
Aubrey Constantineau, currently of Fort Edward, N.Y., shows off what will be the living room in her future Glens Falls, N.Y. home being built by Habitat for Humanity. (Photo: Jay Petrequin)

One of those two homes had a volunteer inside who said she’s had her hands on materials in every room of the house that will soon house herself and her two sons.

“I got to design pretty much everything I wanted,” said Aubrey Constantineau, currently of Fort Edward, who is set to make the move with her family over the holidays. “From the style, to the colors, to the cabinets, to the flooring.”

Constantineau has been onsite, helping build her future home from early on. She’s helped with the landing going to the stairs, with her own bedroom, and a million other placed along the way. And she loves the way that makes her feel.

“If anything goes wrong in here, I’ll feel so much better because I know where everything is,” she said. “I know where all the wires are.”

The hope is that she and her kids can move in by Thanksgiving, but whenever it happens, it will be a big upgrade from the two-bedroom apartment where her family has been living in nearby Fort Edward.

Although the family who will be living there consists of three, more family has helped Constantineau get this far, including her boyfriend, siblings and father. Her brother Shaun drove all the way from Rochester.

habitat for humanity
Volunteers visiting from Clifton Park-based Engineered Molding Technology set a window in place at one of three houses being built by Habitat for Humanity on Hovey Street in Glens Falls, N.Y. (Photo: Jay Petrequin)

News 10 ABC arrived on Wednesday just in time to watch 16 morning shift volunteers finish things off, leaving room for 10 more to come and take their place for an afternoon shift.

That’s a lot more than the 3 to 5 volunteers who have been working onsite most days.

That influx was made up of workers from Engineered Molding Technology, a Clifton Park-based silicone manufacturer that created a recent partnership with the Saratoga/Warren/Washington County chapter of Habitat for Humanity.

That partnership was started off with two donations; one of money, the other of time.

“We’ve learned a lot,” said Engineered Molding Technology Operations Manager Michael Pandori. “Our people are happy to get out of the office, get outside and bang some nails.”

The volunteers there on Wednesday got a day off, in exchange for four hours of their time hammering away on the pair of houses-to-be.

habitat for humanity
Employees from Clifton Park-based Engineered Molding Technology pose for a photo on Wednesday after finishing their shift working on one of two houses under construction by Habitat for Humanity in Glens Falls, N.Y. (Photo: Jay Petrequin)

That’s perfect for employee Lisa Silvanic, who paused in between hammering nails into a window to say that she had always wanted to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, but had never gotten the chance before.

“We had an opportunity through work, and I finally got to do it,” Silvanic said, followed by a few more pounds with a hammer she had become handy within a short time. “And I’m gonna do it again.”

The project by Habitat for Humanity was a collaboration with the City of Glens Falls, which initially centered around the spot where the first finished home of the three now sits.

habitat for humanity
One house sits finished, with two on the way, on Hovey Street in Glens Falls, N.Y., as part of a project by Habitat for Humanity. (Photo: Jay Petrequin)

The house that used to sit there wasn’t suitable for anyone.

“It was an asbestos-ridden dump that nobody wanted to touch,” said Adam Feldman, Executive Director of Glens Falls’ Habitat for Humanity chapter.

Once it was removed, Habitat decided to parlay with the shrubbery next to it. The group is always in need of more property, and the city was happy to let them clear brush out to make space for the two homes now coming together.

Construction got going in spring 2020, right as COVID-19 changed everything.

That meant corporate donors weren’t available to help fund the work with contractors that Habitat needs to do in order to get things rolling; the work that can’t run on a few volunteers alone.

“For example, we pay our plumbers,” Feldman said.

There are a lot of other ways an organization can help out, though. A local union chapter is taking care of plumbing.

Feldman said that it costs around $200,000 plus the cost of land for a Habitat home to be built. In Glens Falls, that typically means around $225,000, all said.

Add to that, funding hasn’t been the only thing changed by coronavirus. Lumber prices have been turbulent throughout the pandemic – a pain felt nearby at the South Street site where the city of Glens Falls hopes to build a new farmers market space.

For Habitat for Humanity, that’s meant all of the wood that went into the trio of new houses cost about 25% more than it normally would.

With all of those things against the project, more important than ever are places like Southern Adirondack ReStore, a nonprofit home improvement store that accepts and sells donated goods to benefit Habitat for Humanity.

habitat for humanity
Two volunteers hammer windows into one of two houses under construction on Hovey Street in Glens Falls, N.Y. (Photo: Jay Petrequin)

Meanwhile, Constantineau comes to work on the house whenever she has the spare time.

When she and her family move in, her two sons will be switching schools, from Fort Edward to Glens Falls. That’s a big change, but the kids are excited.

“They came in and their jaws dropped,” she said. “It’s gonna be roomy here.”

In fact, the boys are both excited because their bedrooms – in the house’s basement – has some benefits.

“They think they can get out the back windows,” she said with a laugh. “I’m going to have to get some bushes planted out there.”

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