Students have been hammering away assembling wood into trusses, the support structure for a house’s roof, on Ho Plaza every day this week.
Organized by Cornell Habitat for Humanity, these trusses will be used to build affordable housing in Tompkins County for disadvantaged families who live in substandard housing.
“Two families will live in this house, one is a single mom with two girls. She’s my hero,” Chuck Newman, construction manager for Habitat for Humanity in Tompkins and Cortland Counties, said. “The other family is Moroccan and Muslim. Both families are working poor but they are amazing people working hard and doing amazing things.”
Newman has been overseeing the Truss Days project, an annual event in which Habitat for Humanity members build trusses over the course of a week.
“All of the Cornell Habitat members raised money to buy the materials,” Newman said. “This year, Ithaca College also wanted to get involved, so Cornell will build 11 trusses and I.C. will build an additional 11 trusses.”
This annual event is “an opportunity for the Cornell community to, quite literally, help put a roof over an Ithaca family’s head,” said Elbert Mets ’17, chapter president.
In addition to Truss Days, the Cornell chapter supports Tompkins County Habitat for Humanity throughout the academic year. Every weekend, student volunteers are connected with local building opportunities and improvement projects in the region.
“Through weekly work trips and winter and spring break trips, we help build and rehabilitate houses, working on anything from the initial cutting of lumber to the installation of drywall to the final planting of trees and shrubs,” member Ankit Rana ’19 said.
Cornell Habitat for Humanity members also seek to educate their community of the importance of accessible housing.
“Beyond the worksite, we aim to increase awareness and advocate for families in need by hosting events on campus to teach elementary through college students about the importance of affordable and safe housing,” Rana said.
Mets said she first decided to join the Cornell Habitat chapter after learning about the impacts of good housing.
“I was inspired to work with Habitat when I learned that homeownership positively correlates with a number of outcomes, including children’s educational achievement,” Mets said.
However, the Habitat members agreed that the best part of a project is helping the families in need.
“The most rewarding part of the build comes after the completion of our major projects,” Rana said. “Seeing the smiles, appreciation, and excitement from the families makes all the hard work worth it.”