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Family chosen for Peabody’s new Habitat home

BY ALAN BURKE, SALEM NEWS

STAFF WRITER

PEABODY — Oumou Diallo came a long way to find her home at 314 Lowell St. in Peabody.

The opportunity to move from an apartment in Lynn to a two-story house renovated by Habitat for Humanity North Shore was only part of the journey. A native of Guinea, she came to the United States in 2001 and has since gained her citizenship. “I came here becauseI like it here,” she said. She works for North Shore Arc in Danvers.

On Tuesday a smiling Diallo and family visited the house, which is currently unheated and stripped largely to its frame, floor and stairs. Under the circumstances, deciding which is the kitchen, which are the three upstairs bedrooms is mostly a matter of imagining. But the new owner seemed adept at picturing it all.

Oumou Diallo of Lynn and her son Abdoulaye Bah will devote 400 hours of work to preparing the house on Lowell Street in Peabody that she is purchasing through Habitat for Humanity.

ALAN BURKE/Staff photo

 

“It was our dream to be in Peabody,” she said. “Because of the kids. They say the schools are very good in Peabody.” Several of Diallo’s grown children are already attending college; three others, including 6-year-old twins, will be moving in with her.

Strict criteria was established for acceptance in the Habitat program, including need, a good credit history, agreeing to contribute 400 hours of work on the building and meeting income guidelines. Those qualifying were then invited to participatein a lottery. Diallo won.

“We notified her the day before Christmas,” said Habitat president Don Preston.

Diallo began working on the house last weekend. Her grown son, Abdoulaye Bah, and sister, Kadi Diallo, are pitching in, too.

Yesterday, she got an official welcome as Mayor Ted Bettencourt and his staff joined the tour. “Congratulations,” a cheerful mayor said, extending his hand moments after coming inside. “It’s nice to haveyou.” The home was built in the 1950s, according to Preston, part of a project to house Korean War veterans. The details of those early arrangements haven’t been firmly established, but some believe the initial buyers paid as little as $25 for the property. John Quinn, later a Peabody firefighter, and his family were the first residents.

More recently the home fell into foreclosure. The city saw an opportunity. They contacted Habitat and worked with them, acquiring federal HOME funds to create an affordableproperty. The house was purchased in a short sale for $230,000, according to Gary Cowles of Habitat. The city was the primary funder.

“This is a terrific program for us,” said Bettencourt, adding that eight Habitat units were created on Park Street previously. “Habitat does a wonderful job.”

If all goes well, the Diallos hope to move in by next fall.

Diallo can eventually own the property by paying off the $130,000 mortgage, but it must always meet the government’s definition of “affordable.”

Mayor Ted Bettencourt extends a welcome to new homeowner Oumou Diallo. Habitat for Humanity is renovating the house, which had been in foreclosure in Peabody.

ALAN BURKE/Staff photo