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Rotarians hear about Habitat for Humanity

August 8, 2014
By Michael Tidemann - Staff Writer , Estherville News

Rotarians are known for such causes as eradicating polio, ensuring that people have safe drinking water and building housing in Haiti. It's only natural, then, that they would be interested in a similar topic affecting people right here in northwestern Iowa - Habitat for Humanity.

Sara Frerichs, secretary of the Northwest Iowa Corridor Habitat for Humanity for Clay and Dickinson counties, told Rotarians Thursday that the organization's mission since 1996 has been to provide safe and affordable housing for everyone.

Housing eligibility is based on income, family size and the living standards a family is in when making an application. Other factors might be whether siblings of the same gender or of a great age difference share the same room.

Frerichs said families are first identified before homes are constructed.

Partner families sign a zero percent interest loan, but before that they have to commit to providing sweat equity in the home under construction. They also work 50 volunteer hours helping build another home before their own.

Habitat homes always have basements - for safety reasons. They don't include garages, but two Habitat partner families have later built a garage, said Frerichs.

Probably most important, people donate time and materials to projects, greatly reducing the cost. There is also a dedicated rest time for fellowship.

Building is typically done on Saturdays with homes constructed in areas where they fit in with the surroundings.

To date, the Northwest Iowa Corridor Habitat for Humanity has build eight stick-built homes and done two home rehabilitations in Clay and Dickinson counties. Communities where homes have been built or rehabilitated include two homes each in Lake Park, Milford and Fostoria; three in Spencer; and one in Everly.

Frerichs said the organization makes every effort to ensure that homes are an energy efficient and green as possible. Homeowners also have to complete a home education course.

Fundraisers of course are an important part of the organization's efforts, and they've done an Italian dinner, auctions and a tour of homes.

Most homes have a 20-25-year mortgage with a second forgiveable equity mortgage that's forgiven when the primary mortgage is paid. Payments go into a revolving fund for the next home constructed.

In a discussion that followed, Frerichs said homeowners are responsible for buying furniture and utilities; however, Frerichs said Maytag and Hunter Douglas are corporate sponsors.



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