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Habitat for Humanity Dedicates Home to Mason City Family

by Jody Spear and Kelly Meyer –

MASON CITY – Habitat for Humanity of North Central Iowa and the sponsorship of Principal Financial Group dedicated a new home to Carrie Smith and her children, Jayden & Lauren, Thursday evening. The location of the Smith’s new home is 1061 17th St NE.

There was an open house from 4:40-5:30 pm where Carrie and her children celebrated the completion of construction with other community members, volunteers and supporters. The dedication ceremony started at 5:30.  Pastor Mark Lavrenz of the Bethlehem Lutheran Church introduced the people that helped make the dedication possible.  A lighting of a candle by Melissa Schoneberg, Executive Director for Habitat for Humanity of NCI was held and then the presenting of keys to the Smith Family for their new home.

“This is actually an exciting time for the kids, they can show off their new rooms,” Schoneberg said.

Chuck Myhre, Head of Construction for Habitat for Humanity, along with volunteers from the Principal Financial Group were the people that made the build possible. “It’s a three bedroom house. A room for the girl, the boy and the master bedroom,” said Myhre. All the rooms were painted in pastel colors of pink, lavender, blue and gray. “They each picked the color they wanted for their room, the boy wanted either a gray or orange, Carrie talked him into having a gray room,” Myhre went on to say.  The house also has the usual rooms, such as a kitchen, a living room, a bathroom, a half basement and a backyard.

“The Principal Financial Group Committee organized over 200 volunteers, with a total of 2000 labor hours building the house,” said Julie Willms, a Committee Member. “My daughter even put in a couple hours, but had to go back to college.”

Rhonda Prelip, another Committee Member said, “If anyone was ever thinking of volunteering to do this, I’d highly recommend it. You learn so much, even if it’s something like just putting up a shelf. There’s a lot of measuring involved.  Most of employees at Principal are female, so a majority of the work was done by women.”

Janine Schrieber is also a Habitat for Humanity home owner. She will be neighbors with the Smith family. She has lived in her home for two months and said, “The neighborhood is awesome, the kids love it, especially being on a dead-end- less traffic. The neighbors are very helpful and we all get along great. We all have pets, so we had a little pet meet and greet the other night with Carrie.”

For those that don’t know much about what Habitat for Humanity does here’s a little information for you.

Habitat for Humanity International is a Christian housing ministry dedicated to eliminating substandard and poverty housing. Habitat for Humanity of North Central Iowa is one of more than 1,700 U.S. and 550 international affiliates worldwide. Each affiliate is run independently and is responsible for its management, operations, and funding.

“Founded in 1994, our affiliate has provided home-ownership opportunities to 43 area families. We are governed by a volunteer Board of Directors, and operate with three full time and one part time staff members. Volunteers are engaged to build houses, staff committees and work with the ReStore. Our Affiliate covers a six county service area: Worth, Cerro Gordo, Franklin, Winnebago, Hancock and Wright counties,” says Habitat.

“Our families are selected based on need, ability to pay, and willingness to partner with Habitat. The families earn between 30% and 60% of the area median income, for example, a family of four should have an income between $17,883 and $35,767. Each adult must complete 250 hours of “sweat equity.”

There are community benefits, Habitat families show an increase in financial security, and a decrease in the use of food stamps and welfare assistance. Studies show that children of homeowners get better grades in school, are more likely to graduate from high school and go on the secondary education, and have lower rates of teen pregnancy. Other benefits are jobs. Habitat subcontracts with construction businesses for several critical building phases. Excavation, concrete foundations, HVAC, plumbing and electrical work are contracted to local businesses The average Habitat home involves $32,000 in payments to local contractors. The material for Habitat Homes are purchased from local lumber yards, hardware and grocery stores. Up to $35,000 in materials go into Habitat homes.

Located on in-fill or donated lots, Habitat homes bring up the property tax base in their neighborhoods. Current homes cost approximately $75,000-$85,000 to build and constructions takes around six to eights months. That is for a three bedroom of 1,025 square feet or a four bedroom home of 1,225 square feet. The homes are purchased by approved families through a 0% interest loan and 1% down payment. Homes are constructed with handicap accessibility and energy efficiency taken into consideration.

“Our volunteers build most of the structure and do the finish work on the houses. The foundations, plumbing, HVAC and electrical are completed by licensed contractors. Groups and individuals volunteer from local churches, businesses (like the Principal Financial Group) and organizations, as well as helping with the funding. Homeowner loans account for 10% of the annual budget and the ReStore profits contribute to our ability to provide additional housing.”

“In the past year, Habitat for Humanity of North Central Iowa has invested more than $435,000 in our local economy.”

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Since i own a habitat home i am in a unique place to comment on the comments here…Habitat does fix up older homes…But traditionally the land and a lot of the building materials as well as labor are donated, so it is actually cheaper then buying a house with land and fixing it up rather then getting the land and most of the supplies donated. The people who “deserve” these houses fall within income levels in a range that they can make payments but less then them being able to buy a house on their own, plus they all donate 250+ hours of labor per each adult with habitat, also they have a need…for instance i was living in my flooded home before i was accepted, and last but not least someone in the family must have a disability or be medically needy.

I think they should only be fixing up old houses for habitat homes. It would improve bad neighborhoods and should be cheaper so more people can benefit. Most people will work hard their whole lives and never be able to afford a new home so why them?

I think that’s a great idea! Has anyone spoken to the Habitat people about this? Especially with the amount of foreclosures, I would think that it would be quite beneficial to fix up homes as habitat homes.

Correction-I was driving West

It is great to see someone getting a home. Congratulations to the people that made it happen.

I live in the area of these new Habitat houses. So far all I see is a little boy that runs around with NO supervision and new dogs (one huge dog) running free. I have almost hit it trying to drive on my street!

Are you saying that you know the little boy lives in a Habitat home? I see plenty of kids ALL over town without supervision and I know for a fact that many of them do not live in Habitat homes. As for the dog, call it in.

How do you almost hit (one huge dog)on a dead end street if your driving with care.

@ Anonymous, I was driving on my street, not even the same street as the Habitat houses. Obviously I was driving with care since I didn’t hit the dog! By the way I was driving east, AWAY from the dead end. And before you ask how I know the dog was from the Habitat house, I happen to walk my leashed dog on that street and it came running loose at my restrained dog and myself. I did call animal control. Hasn’t helped yet.

@ Face to the sun. This family has not even moved into the house yet! My goodness take your negative comments elsewhere! No matter where you go in this dang town there are kids and animals running around unsupervised all of the time get over it!

@ wow, I was referring to the other Habitat house on the same lot. I’m not being negative I’m just stating a fact.

Thanks Matt~ I like to see good stuff like this as well.

I concur, I have seen a great increase in stories with a positive and proactive outlook.


I agree also, we love to read good things as well. Great Story Jody & Kelly!

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