Stephanie Banks has seized her window of opportunity and opened her door to home ownership.
Banks was on hand with a hammer and nails as work began Saturday on the 29th Habibtat for Humanity home in Warren County. She and her two boys, ages 11 and 9, will live in the home upon completion in about three months.
“I never thought I’d own my own home,” said Banks, “and I for sure never thought I would be building my own home. I’ve nailed some nails and I helped lift a wall.”
By the end of the day Saturday, all four walls of Banks’ home were in place. This coming Saturday, the roof will be added.
In about a month the vinyl siding will be installed, according to Habitat for Humanity representative Todd Herzog.
Among the volunteers helping Saturday were members of the WCHS football team.
“We like to have the football team help us the first day because they have strong backs and young bodies and there is a lot of lifting that first day,” said Herzog. “At this point, with our 29th house, we have the routine down. When we first started here in 1998, we didn’t know what we were doing. It was like the blind leading the blind.”
Habitat for Humanity homes are not free. Recipients pay for building materials through a no-interest loan. Most of the labor is donated. Herzog said a typical home payment is about $325 per month which includes taxes and insurance.
Home recipients also have to provide 400 hours of what’s called “sweat equity.” This is 400 hours of volunteer service for Habitat or another organization. Banks has already done volunteer work for McMinnville Special Games.
The city of McMinnville has donated several lots for Habitat use, a donation which eventually benefits the city.
“When a city clears a lot and it’s just sitting there, it’s non-tax-producing,” said Herzog. “We can build a home on it and all of a sudden you have a property on the tax rolls.”
Over the course of Habitat’s nearly 30 years in Warren County, Herzog says the biggest challenge is finding people who qualify for a Habitat home. He says the recipients must be low income and have good credit.
“They are well-built homes that have two baths and central heat and air,” said Herzog. “They look nice and are often the nicest home in that neighborhood. That can have a residual effect and lead to other homeowners in the area doing work on their homes. We’ve seen that happen several times before.”
For anyone interested in starting the process to become a Habitat for Humanity homeowner, applications are available at McMinnville Electric System. You can also leave a message at the Habitat phone number, 668-6166.