Rural Bryant resident Mike Ninde swings a hammer during a Jay County Habitat for Humanity build in 2004. At left, volunteers swarm on the roof and in front of the 2004 build home. The group will construct a new home this summer on East Elder Street in Portland. (The Commercial Review archive)
Rural Bryant resident Mike Ninde swings a hammer during a Jay County Habitat for Humanity build in 2004. At left, volunteers swarm on the roof and in front of the 2004 build home. The group will construct a new home this summer on East Elder Street in Portland. (The Commercial Review archive)
The local chapter of Habitat for Humanity has been working quietly behind the scenes for the last few years. This year members of the board of directors say they hope to have the chance to be a little more active.
Fred DeHoff, president of the board, said the Jay County Habitat for Humanity plans on building a home in Portland this summer and possibly rehabilitating a house and property in Redkey.
DeHoff said the group has built 13 homes since getting their start about 20 years ago, with the last build occurring in November of 2007. Nine of those homes are still occupied by residents receiving help from Habitat for Humanity.
But while they haven’t done any builds for more than four years, the Habitat has been helping behind the scenes, working with their tenants during the recent tough economic times. They currently have clients in four houses in Portland, two houses in Pennville, two houses in Dunkirk and one house in Redkey.
This summer, however, they’re ready to put up another house. The group is planning on building this summer on a lot at 322 E. Elder Street, Portland, near General Shanks Elementary School.
“It’s a beautiful place for a family with kids,” DeHoff said.
Habitat got the lot through a donation from Doug Loy. A house that was previously on the lot burned down in the early 2000s.
DeHoff said Habitat is hoping to have its Blitz Build Day in June or July.
On Blitz Build Day, volunteers come in and help set the walls, the windows and the roof of the house. DeHoff said it can get a little chaotic at times with all the volunteers, but board member Paul Martin said “it’s always been well organized.”
By the end of that blitz day, the home is completely weathertight and is ready for finish work.
Previous Blitz Builds have brought together numerous members of the community in efforts to help a needy family.
The build is done purely through volunteer work. DeHoff said the men of Westchester United Methodist Church usually pour the concrete for the sub-floor, while members of the Trinity United Methodist Church do painting inside the house. He also said members of the Knights of Columbus usually do the siding and he and his daughter hang the doors and trim.
After the Blitz Build, finishing touches have to be done, then “a couple of months later, if all goes well, the family gets a key,” DeHoff said.
He also said the members of the board had recently found out they are able to rehabilitate homes and provide them to qualified applicants. DeHoff said Habitat is hoping to be able to do its first rehab on a home near the intersection of Ind. 1 and Delaware Street in Redkey.
DeHoff and Martin said they hope to be able to have the home rehabilitated in early 2014.
The last home built by the local Habitat for Humanity chapter in 2007 was about 1,000-square feet, with three bedrooms, one bath and central heat and cooling. It also came with a washer, dryer, stove and refrigerator.
The homes, which DeHoff estimated assess for $80,000 to $90,000, usually cost about $50,000 to build.
The recipient of the home will have to pay only for the actual $50,000 cost of the home. DeHoff said the payments are divided up over 20 or 30 years. He said the largest payment being made currently is $230 a month.
Each recipient is also required to contribute a set number of hours of “sweat equity,” in which they personally work on the home. Single recipients must contribute 250 hours, and couples 500 hours.
“It’s a good thing, it creates responsibility,” DeHoff said about getting one of the houses.
DeHoff and Martin also said they hoped the Habitat would be able to start counseling the home recipients on how to budget expenses.
The Habitat holds a ghost mortgage on each property until the recipient pays back the expenses. The recipient then owns the home free and clear.
The Habitat uses these payments to continue building new houses each year. DeHoff said, without contributions, it would take about 21 homes to allow a build every year. “That’s our goal,” he said, mentioning he hopes the group will be self-sufficient eventually.
Right now, however, he said, “we still need lots.”