Dexter family of seven gets new home with USDA help
By REBECCA MADDEN
TIMES STAFF WRITER
PUBLISHED: THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 2014 AT 1:03 AM
NORM JOHNSTON / WATERTOWN DAILY TIMES
The Carpenter family poses with government officials outside of their new 1,900-square-foot house on Smith Road, Dexter.
DEXTER — After having lived in a single-wide, 14-by-74-foot trailer for 16 years, Russell K. Carpenter and his children now have their own two-level house to call home.
The $175,000, 1,900-square-foot Smith Road home became a reality for the single father of six children with the help of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Single-Family Housing Program. Designed to improve the quality of life for low- to moderate-income families, the low-interest loan program has materially improved the family’s quality of life.
“You have made it through what we call the American dream,” said Tony Hernandez, USDA Rural Development rural housing service administrator, who welcomed the Carpenters into their home Wednesday. “You did the work; we had staff to help you go through the process.”
He presented the Carpenters with mums and a giant, symbolic key to the house.
The children, Jennifer E., 9; Sabra A., 12; Aliegha M., 13; Zachary E., 13; Dakota L., 15, and Alex J., 17, already had claimed their spaces in the four-bedroom, 2.5-bath home, despite receiving the certificate of occupancy only Tuesday. Mr. Carpenter will have the first-floor master bedroom suite, while Alex has his own room upstairs, Zach and Dakota share the third bedroom and the three girls share the last bedroom.
In the trailer, all of boys were in one room, and the girls were in another.
“In a room with my two brothers it was cluttered,” Dakota said as he went through the upstairs of his new home. “This is a good change.” He said Wednesday that his family’s dream of having their own home “never came true until today.”
He also decided that when Alex graduates from Lyme Central School, Chaumont, in June, he wants to move into that room. Aliegha said she was just excited to be able to have more friends visit.
“This gives them their own space,” Mr. Carpenter said. “In providing for them, they have to have a roof over their head. The difficulty is trying to make sure you have funding, enough money in the bank, and don’t run out of money. I wanted to do it right.”
For Mr. Carpenter, that meant waiting for the right opportunity to come along — the Single Family Housing Program — after having lived in the trailer for 16 years.
The Car-Freshener production worker had to pay for a first-time homeowner class, water testing and land surveying, and he dipped into his 401k to buy new appliances. He said he is most happy to know that with assistance from the USDA, American Homes, contractors and other personnel, he now has a safe, warm home on a 2-acre lot for his children.
The Carpenters expect to be fully moved in this weekend.
Last year, four newly constructed homes were made available through the program to families living in Jefferson County. Meanwhile, USDA Rural Development recently awarded a grant through its Community Facilities program to the North Country Christian Church soup kitchen, Sandy Creek, for a new roof, and Mr. Hernandez was on hand there to commemorate that funding.