The McHugh family

The McHugh family

Article from Enterprise Record, October 1, 2017

Written by Mary Nugent

The McHugh family is pretty much crammed into their little apartment.

All five of them share two bedrooms and one closet. The kitchen is tiny and crowded. The walls of the living room are lined with boxes and just stuff — too much stuff for the little place.

But that situation is coming to an end. Jimmy and Andrea McHugh applied for and were accepted by Habitat for Humanity of Butte County to own their own home.

It’s not a gift, and it’s not charity. The couple both have jobs. “But we could just never come up with enough to buy a house,” said Jimmy McHugh.

“We can’t afford a huge mortgage,” added his wife.

That’s where Habitat comes in. Its purpose is to offer homeownership opportunities to working families that have not been able to obtain conventional financing. It took the McHughs three applications to finally land a home with Habitat.

The couple had to come up with a $1,000 down payment, and did.

Their mortgage will be around $600 a month, said Nicole Bateman, executive director of the local Habitat for Humanity. That’s slightly more than their monthly rent now, but much less than it would cost to rent a three-bedroom home in Chico, said Bateman.

“What they’re living in now would be considered substandard. It’s overcrowded. This house will change all that for them,” Bateman said.

The McHughs’ sons are Damian, 13; Nathan, 9; and Malcolm, 2. While the boys all share a bedroom now, Damian will get his own room in the new home. The eighth-grader is pretty happy about that.

Construction hasn’t even begun on the family’s three-bedroom home, which will be on East 20th Street. In fact, it’s close to where Jimmy McHugh works as a cook at Sierra Nevada Brewery. “I can walk or ride my bike,” he said.

Andrea McHugh has worked in the garden center at Lowe’s for four years.

One of the requirements to own a Habitat home is that each adult contributes 250 hours of “sweat equity.”

“We’ll be working Fridays and Saturdays. We also have lots of family and friends to help. Everyone is very excited for us,” she said. “More room — I can’t wait.”

Construction, said Bateman, will begin in late October or early November.

Jimmy McHugh, 36, said he looks forward to working on the house.

“I went to culinary school and I’m a cook now. I’ve been a mechanic, and I worked in construction for a long time. I’ve done drywall, air conditioning, everything. I’m excited about working on the house I’ll own,” he said. “Stability is the main thing. We’re happy to work for it, and pay for it.”

There are other amenities the McHughs are looking forward to.

A wall air conditioner in the living room has to cool their entire apartment. In the new home, there will be central heating and air, and Jimmy McHugh says that should help reduce their electricity bill.

“But not only that,” added Andrea McHugh. “This new house will have solar. How great is that?”

The McHughs have been in Chico for 12 years. “I’m from the Bay Area, Andrea’s from L.A.,” he said. “We just like the atmosphere here. Love the trees. Who knows — we might just stay forever.”

Open enrollment for the next two Habitat for Humanity homes will be in February or March. Fore more, visit www.butttehabitat.org.

You can join with Jimmy and Andrea to help the next Habitat Homeowner DONATE NOW