Since 1988, Habitat for Humanity of Suffolk has helped develop and build homes for low-income families on Long Island. And despite the wealth of the East End, Habitat for Humanity is no stranger to the Hamptons. Currently, work is underway on a house in East Quogue. The project, which started in November 2017 but ran into some development snags along the way, is just one of the many projects Habitat for Humanity of Suffolk is involved in.
“There’s still some work to be done [on the East Quogue house],” says Les Scheinfeld, Development Director of Habitat for Humanity of Suffolk. “There were some structural problems, which Riverhead Building Supply helped us fix. We’re now at the home stretch.” Scheinfeld notes that the Suffolk branch of Habitat for Humanity typically relies on Suffolk County’s affordable housing program and banks when looking for homes to renovate and build upon. “It’s a unique blessing we have,” Scheinfeld explains. “Many habitat affiliates have to fund their own properties.”
Families in need can apply for possible housing opportunities on Habitat of Suffolk’s website. “We just completed an application period where there were hundreds of families,” Scheinfeld says. “That gets whittled down, and the Family Service Manager reviews the final candidates. Once the board gives their okay, they’re ready to be partnered with a property and the house.” After a family is selected, the long road to their new home begins. While Scheinfeld himself gets to know each family to a certain extent, he notes that it’s the people who build the houses that forge lasting connections. “Our site supervisors get to know the family very well, a lifelong bond that’s formed,” he says.
Habitat for Humanity depends, of course, on volunteers to get a great deal of the work done when preparing a house. “As the temperature turns cold, a lot of volunteers shy away from the work,” Scheinfeld says. “So we want to say that most of the work during the winter is interior. We’re not keeping people out in the cold. It’s a unique volunteer opportunity.”
There are other ways to help out, as well, for the less power tool-inclined. The ReStore retail outlet in Ronkonkoma is filled to the brim with donated building supplies and home furnishings. “Instead of throwing [excess materials] into a dumpster, think about donating,” Scheinfeld says. And although Ronkonkoma may be a bit of a drive for East Enders, Scheinfeld points out that trucks are available to pick up donations.
Scheinfeld, who has been with Habitat for Humanity for 15 years, has spent most of his professional career working with nonprofit companies, and feels lucky to be a part of an organization that helps people in such a practical and vital way.
“When I look at pictures on my wall, I see one that celebrates our 100th house, and now we’re [working toward] our 200th house,” he marvels. “Habitat has been unique because it’s about one family and one house that we build at a time. It’s a blessing to get to know the family, the volunteers and the sponsors.”
For more information on Habitat for Humanity of Suffolk, including how to volunteer, donate or apply for housing, visit habitatsuffolk.org.