Five-year-old Axel Guess is happy to have a bedroom of his own, along with a newly donated quilt to keep him warm. The Guess family will be moving into one of the six affordable homes built by Habitat for Humanity of Cape Cod along Murray Lane in West Harwich. A dedication was held Nov. 17 to celebrate the completion of the project. WILLIAM F. GALVIN PHOTO
WEST HARWICH – Thursday was a great day for 11 children and 11 adults who now have homes they can call their own.
Habitat for Humanity Cape Cod held a dedication and celebration for the new owners of six affordable homes constructed with the support of volunteers, community generosity and sweat equity on Murray Lane in West Harwich.
It was a day that saw a crowd of more than 150 people turn out to celebrate the completion of the homes and the dedication of families who invested substantial labor in bringing the project to fruition.
“Thank you guys for helping my family make our house,” said 5-year-old Axel Guess, proud to have a home where he will have his own bedroom.
“I’m overwhelmed with excitement. We’re really blessed,” said Axel’s mother Jessica Guess standing on the front porch of the family’s new home. She, her husband Charlie, daughter Brooklyn, and Axel had been renting for the past four years. It was not always an easy situation, she said. Charlie Guess was born and raised in Harwich.
“To everyone who volunteered their time, thank you. Thank you to everyone who took time out to help us,” Jessica Guess said to the crowd assembled along Murray Lane.
The seeds of an early sense of neighborhood have already begun to sprout there. Director of construction Bob Ryley said two of the children who will soon be neighbors there were observed walking down the street hand in hand. Six of the children in the new neighborhood are 7 years old or younger.
It has been a journey for Alfred Reyes and his family. Reyes said he left Puerto Rico right after Hurricane Irma devastated the island. He was fortunate to be hired by Mac’s Seafood. His family followed and made it to Boston, but their living conditions were not stable and they were about to become homeless, Reyes said.
Mac Hay, owner of Mac’s Seafood, told him not to worry, that he would help the family get relocated to Provincetown, which he did. Reyes worked for Mac’s Seafood for three years and said it was a good experience. He is now a sous chef at the Wequassett Resort and Golf Club.
Reyes said he is very excited about having a home for his wife, Arelis, his son Julio, a student at Cape Cod Community College, his daughter Nellie, who is a student at Cape Tech, and his youngest daughter, Eva, who attends school in Provincetown.
“In this world of ours you have affected lives in a positive way,” Ryley said at the dedication. “You have brought peace and joy to so many with the positive effect of what you have done for these families, and these children that inhabit these homes you’ve built.”
The homes are one- to three-bedroom structures and range in cost between $138,000 and $168,000. Major funding was provided through the Harwich Community Preservation Committee and Harwich Affordable Housing Trust. The Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston and The Coop Foundation were major contributors, among many other donors.
The homes along Murray Way — named after the late affordable housing advocate Robert Murray — have solar panels and heat pumps, which provide far less environmental impact while lowering the homeowners’ energy costs.
In the past 30 years, Habitat for Humanity of Cape Cod has developed more than 165 affordable homes on Cape Cod, with 21 homes currently under construction, including two in West Chatham. The families help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage. The homes are deed restricted to remain affordable in perpetuity.