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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • Habitat for Humanity: Making a house a home since 1999

  • Thanks to countless hours of volunteer work, as well as some donations, a lot of planning, and a great deal of “sweat equity,” seven local families have been able to buy their own homes with the assistance of Phelps County Habitat for Humanity.
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  • Thanks to countless hours of volunteer work, as well as some donations, a lot of planning, and a great deal of “sweat equity,” seven local families have been able to buy their own homes with the assistance of Phelps County Habitat for Humanity.
    Since 1999, the Phelps County chapter of the organization has assisted seven families, and there is an eighth house in the works in Rolla that should be completed sometime within the next six months.
    “Habitat for Humanity addresses a need for adequate housing,” said Bob Morrison, the chapter’s president. “Some of the people we have helped over the years lived in homes in major disrepair with countless issues, and we were able to improve their lives by helping them fulfill their needs for adequate housing. That’s what Habitat is all about— trying to help people.”
    Morrison said the homes Habitat for Humanity builds “aren’t palaces, but they aren’t junk, either.
    “We provide people with a nice place they can live that is comparable to other houses in the area,” he explained.
    According to Morrison, what is unique about Habitat for Humanity, which is an international organization responsible for building hundreds of thousands of homes, is that the prospective homeowners have to put in at least 250 hours of “sweat equity” in the building of their homes, and they also have to make payments based on the cost of the land and materials.
    “We have them pay a 20-year note that is interest-free,” he said. “They just pay for what the home costs.”
    As for the sweat equity, that could include anything from painting to helping install siding, or anything else the prospective homeowners could do to help in the building of their homes.
    Of the seven homes built since 1999, four of those homes are in St. James. Three are in Rolla, and the home that is currently under construction is in Rolla as well.
    Newburg and Edgar Springs could potentially have Habitat for Humanity homes in the future as well, depending on the number of applicants and available resources for the organization.
    “We go through quite a long application process and really screen people to make sure they are the right fit,” Morrison said. “We'd love to eventually have some homes in other parts of the county.”
    To be considered for a Phelps County Habitat for Humanity home, applicants must live in Phelps County, and there are also financial considerations, such as need and if the applicants are employed (so that they could make the required monthly payments).
    Morrison said the plan is to eventually build one home per year, but it may be a while before they reach that goal.
    Page 2 of 2 - "We use the payments from the seven other homes to buy property to build new homes. So it may take a while for us to have enough funding to buy more land,” he said.
    When the organization is not building homes, they also have another program called Brush with Kindness.
    “With this program, we serve families by completing minor renovations,” Morrison said. “We actually just finished our first Brush with Kindness project. We installed a walk-in shower in place of a bathtub for a person with disabilities.”
    Morrison said donations are always appreciated by the organization, but volunteers are also needed to help construct the homes.
    “We always need people to help with the building,” he said. “We need people who can paint, install siding, jobs that involve working with your hands.”
    He said the volunteers usually meet to construct the homes on Saturdays, and the entire process can take anywhere from four to six months, although most of the framework will go up in a single weekend in what the organization calls a “blitz build.”
    One of the Phelps County homeowners, Nancy Williams, of St. James, said her life was “completely changed” by the organization.
    “Without Habitat, I wouldn’t have what I have today,” she said.
    “It was such a blessing, and I thank God for it every day. I wish even more people would become aware of Habitat and help the organization. I am so thankful they were able to build me a home,” she said.

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