Habitat for Humanity to build a house in BE
It looks like there will be at least one new home built in Blue Earth next year if a local group can raise enough money, that is.
“Our plan is to build a house in Blue Earth next year, in 2020,” says Staci Thompson, the executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Martin and Faribault Counties. “We are very excited about this coming together and we are hoping to start construction a year from right now.”
Thompson says they have selected a local family, and they have the site where they plan to build on.
“The family is Ashley Fuller and her children,” Thompson says. “Ashley works at Kerry Foods, and she has been great to work with.”
The lot is on the east side of the middle roundabout along Highway 169. It is on the corner of N. Grove and E. First streets.
Thompson says Habitat for Humanity has owned the lot for at least 15 years. It had been donated to them long ago.
“We have not built a home in Blue Earth,” Thompson says. “Our last project here was to move a donated house onto a lot on 10th Street several years ago.”
Before that, in Faribault County, Habitat for Humanity built a house in Elmore. They have also been in Bricelyn and several places in Martin County in the last couple of years.
“We are involved with two other Habitat for Humanity programs,” Thompson explains. “One is called ‘A Brush With Kindness’ where we assist low-income homeowners who are struggling to maintain the exterior of their homes. The other is called ‘Critical Home Repair.’ We just recently completed one of those projects in Blue Earth, where we partnered with Armour Construction to re-shingle a home.”
However, Thompson agrees there is nothing like doing a “stick build” as she calls it.
“Everyone knows us as the people who build houses,” she says. “And that is fine. We really want to build more homes if we can make everything work.”
In Blue Earth one of the issues was to get a family to apply. There are a lot of qualifications to meet, paperwork to fill out, and some big conditions to agree to.
“Some people think we build free homes for people, but that is just not true, they are not free,” Thompson says. “Our families pay a mortgage payment to us, although it is at zero interest. And they have to pay a $1,000 down payment, and most importantly, they have to agree to do 250 hours of sweat equity in the construction of their home.”
They also have to be employed and have a steady income, meet income guidelines, have lived in the county for at least one year, and have some type of housing need. They also have to agree to take classes on construction, landscape, budgeting and home repair and maintenance.
“This will be our 14th house in the two counties,” Thompson says. “And, unfortunately, we did have to foreclose on one family for non-payment.”
She adds that they try to keep the cost of the houses low, by using donated labor and materials as much as possible. Normally they aim for a $500 per month payment which covers the mortgage, property taxes and insurance.
There are some serious issues to get solved before the house starts to be built in Blue Earth next spring.
One is funding. The other is finding a construction manager who can oversee the whole construction process.
“Unfortunately some of our recent projects have taken more funding than we first thought,” Thompson explains. “And some of our recent fundraisers, although they did bring in donations, did not do as well as we had hoped.”
So, Thompson is ready to do some serious fundraising in the next couple of months. She is contacting several foundations and other organizations for grants, as well as soon sending out letters asking for donations.
“One of our ideas is to have a group, or a service club, or a church sponsor a room in the house,” Thompson explains. “They could raise and donate funding and or materials for that room.”
Another fundraiser is a Habitat for Humanity state-wide 500 mile bike ride fundraiser.
“Usually we have just one participant, from Fairmont, but this year we will have four,” Thompson says. “And two of those people will be from Blue Earth. That would be Kevin Benson and myself.”
She adds that she had not ridden a bike in years and actually had to go out and buy one. She has been training for some time and is going to do a lot more now that the weather is decent.
If anyone would like to help sponsor either Thompson or Benson in the bike ride, or would just like to make a donation to the local Habitat for Humanity chapter, or is interested in donating materials for the house or help out building the house next year, is urged to call Thompson at 507-526-2500 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thompson is hopeful people will respond to help build this house in Blue Earth next year.
“I think the site is great, because it is so visible off of (Highway) 169,” Thompson says. “Once people see it under construction they may help with donations and volunteering to help out. But we would like to have at least half the estimated cost raised before we start construction.”
The official information on Habitat for Humanity is that they “are a Christian housing ministry financed through private donations and utilizing volunteer labor. Our purpose is to build homes with families and sell the houses at no profit and with no interest to families who could not otherwise afford a home.”
Staci Thompson is a firm believer in that philosophy.
“I just believe that everyone especially children deserve safe and decent housing,” Thompson says. “I have seen some people having to live in some rough housing. And that makes me want to try to help out as much as I can.”