Setting a foundation: Habitat for Humanity breaks ground on new build

Pic 2

EASTLAKE — The Manistee County Habitat for Humanity broke ground on a new house this week, and in time it will be a new home for a family in need.

A crew from Carl’s Excavating dug the basement for the future three-bedroom, two-bathroom ranch style house in Eastlake as board members of the local Habitat affiliate proudly looked on.

“This is our vision,” said Vanessa Buhs, executive director of Manistee County Habitat for Humanity, “safe, decent and affordable housing in our community.

“Habitat’s vision is a world in which everyone has a decent place to live,” she added. “We’re a small affiliate, but we’re trying to improve the quality of living for local families as well as revitalizing neighborhoods in the area.”

This week’s groundbreaking marks the 11th house constructed in Manistee County under the local chapter’s new home program since its inception in 1994. The last build was completed in 2014.

“Because of our size, we’re able to build a new house about once every three years,” Buhs said.

Between builds, however, the organization offers a pair of additional programs for eligible residents in need.

According to the organization’s website — habitatmanistee.org — the Weatherization Program is designed to improve the energy efficiency and overall indoor air quality and comfort of a low-income family’s home. Weatherization is a systematic repair process to an existing home based on a comprehensive energy audit, resulting in a defined scope of work.

Habitat’s Critical Repair Program includes extensive interior and exterior work preformed to alleviate critical health, life, and safety issues on homes of low-income families. Critical Home Repair includes: fixing code violations, including a change to or repair of materials or components; a reconfiguration of space; or a modification for accessibility.

Buhs said the backbone of all three programs is the local affiliate’s 12-member board and four-member committee.

“They are the heart of the organization,” she said. “All year round they’re fundraising, strategic planning, working on those critical repair projects and seeking eligible applicants for the new builds.

“They are the brains and the brawn behind this, each with their own level of expertise and talent.”

For a new house to come to fruition, however, Habitat for Humanity relies heavily on volunteers from around the community.

“For our builds, we’ll have organizations, churches and individuals come out to help,” Buhs said. “We’re always looking for volunteers, and we’ll use a variety of skill sets.”

Buhs said an average of 40 to 50 volunteers will be involved over the course of a build, which typically takes 9 to 12 months. Volunteers are still being accepted for the current build, she said. Those interested should visit habitatmanistee.org for information and email Buhs at habitat.manistee.county@gmail.com to get involved.

“We’ll assign people to different parts of the project,” she said. “We’ve got some tried and true volunteers who have worked on many of the houses, some with past construction experience and contractor’s licenses.

“Or we’ll have some with different levels of expertise that volunteer,” Buhs added. “We always review and assign them to an area that is appropriate.”

The qualified family receiving the home also plays a role in the construction, with a set amount of sweat equity required.

New houses are sold to partner families with very low interest mortgages, which are to be paid over 20 years.

Eligible recipients are determined by need for adequate housing, their income level and willingness to partner with Habitat on the construction of the home.

Those interested in benefiting from the new home program, can fill out an application through habitatmanistee.org.

avatar

Posted by Dylan Savela

Dylan is the county reporter for the News Advocate, he also is in charge of the Small Town Life, religion and senior pages. He can be reached at (231) 398-3111 or dsavela@pioneergroup.com.

Leave a Reply