Lake Elsinore family gets historic home in Habitat for Humanity project

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Rita Barringer holds up the keys to her family’s new Habitat for Humanity-built home, while her sons look on. Valley News/Will Fritz photo

A Lake Elsinore family has a new home thanks to Habitat for Humanity.

Rita Barringer and her four sons, along with numerous local officials and Habitat for Humanity staff, were on hand Saturday, Feb. 22, for a dedication ceremony at their new house in downtown Lake Elsinore.

And while the home certainly has significance for them, it does for the whole city as well. The Barringers’ new house is a three-bedroom, two-bathroom replica of the historic Jean Hayman house, once located on Main Street in Lake Elsinore. The new home is on East Pottery Street, opening up the Main Street lot for commercial development. Hayman, who died in 2004, was a teacher in the Lake Elsinore area for almost 40 years. The former Jean Hayman Elementary School in Wildomar, which closed in 2008 due to budget cuts, bore her name.

Lake Elsinore Mayor Brian Tisdale said the home is a win-win for the city.

“It keeps a historical house in the city, and anytime we can get a family into homeownership, that’s a great thing,” he said.

 Tammy Marine, executive director of Habitat for Humanity Inland Valley, said the home resulted in not one, but two first-time homeownership opportunities.

“By building this house, we were able to provide a first-time homeownership opportunity, and we were able to relocate the tenants that were in the original Jean Hayman house which ultimately resulted in a first-time homeownership opportunity for them as well,” she said. “We were able to upgrade this neighborhood – you’ll notice that the house is beautiful and it’s definitely revitalizing this section of the city.”

But the Barringers are just one family, Marine said, and there’s plenty more that can be done.

“When this house, when we announced we were having the informational meeting about this house, we had 60 families come out, the majority of which lived in subsidized rentals,” Marine said. “They are ready to go on to something else. But the leap from subsidized rental to fair market value rental or to home ownership is too broad, and so they have no choice but to stay where they are.”

The Barringers had been living in subsidized housing when they were selected for their Habitat for Humanity home.

Marine said she wanted to note that Habitat for Humanity Inland Valley was providing “a hand up, not a hand out.”

“I want to point out that this family worked their tail off for this house, they don’t get it for free,” she said.

In addition to being required to work on some of the construction, Marine said the family purchased the house from Habitat for Humanity with a no-interest loan, priced to what they can afford.

Rita Barringer told attendees at the dedication ceremony that she appreciated the hard work from everyone who volunteered in constructing her family’s new home.

“I just want to thank everyone for coming out and acknowledge that Jesus Christ made all of this possible, because without him this wouldn’t be happening,” Barringer said.

Her 18-year-old son, Ian Barringer, also spoke at the dedication ceremony.

“I’m extremely grateful for what they’ve done for us, and I’m gonna be able to sleep well at night knowing my mother will have somewhere to sleep, knowing that my brothers will always have somewhere to go, knowing that my family will not be homeless or in transitional housing,” he said.

But, he said, he thinks often about the families who weren’t as lucky as his.

“There were a lot of families, a lot of people, in situations just like ours, who applied and waited and unfortunately they weren’t given the opportunity to own a home,” Ian Barringer said.

Marine said it’s her hope that in the future Habitat for Humanity Inland Valley can do not just one, but “10, 15, 20 houses a year.”

Will Fritz can be reached by email at wfritz@reedermedia.com.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified to Habitat for Humanity Inland Valley Executive Director Tammy Marine as Rita Marine. Valley News regrets the error.