BY PHIL WHEELER
What do former President Jimmy Carter, Brad Pitt, and Trisha Yearwood have in common? Each has volunteered their time with Habitat for Humanity.
The Habitat for Humanity of Ottawa County has built or refurbished 27 homes, providing affordable housing for folks like Veronica and Jason Mattlen. Their new home is being built on a lot in Genoa donated by Landbank of Ottawa County and ready for them to occupy in about six months.
Debi Heiks, the Executive Director for Ottawa County HFH, said while her group is part of Habitat for Humanity International, its funding comes from grants or donations. In addition, money from mortgages is used to fund new construction.
There are three qualifications for a local HFH home. First is the willingness to partner. This requires 500 hours of “sweat equity” from the prospective home owner. Friends and family can help out.
Second, the family has to be able to afford the house payments. HFH does not give houses away. It sells affordable houses to a family at 0% interest.
“We give a hand up, and not a hand out,” said Heiks. There is a window of opportunity. Home owners can’t make too much, or too little revenue.
Third, is need, which can stem from a variety of needs. There are many such criteria.
Although volunteers provide much of the work, many items, such as digging the foundation or installing the roof, are done by professionals who donate time, money and materials. Electric, heating and air conditioning must be done by contractors.
Because of the COVID pandemic, the biggest issue facing HFH is getting the materials to build the houses. Heiks said construction manager Paul Henry made sure that materials were available for this home to be built, and other contractors have also stepped up to help out.
“I can’t thank the community enough,” said Heiks. “I have been with HFH for almost two years, and Ottawa County has been so loving and giving. I feel really blessed that I live in a county where people are so willing to help.”
Habitat for Humanity also has local home improvement stores called Habitat ReStores, which sell reusable and surplus building materials, furniture and appliances to the public. The money made from these sales is used to help families build a better future. There is one located in Sandusky.
To learn more about this wonderful organization, contact Heiks at 419-734-7074, or visit their website atHabitatOttawaCounty.org. Habitat for Humanity International is a non-governmental, nonprofit organization, founded in 1976 by Millard and Linda Fuller. They are a Christian organization with international operational headquarters are located in Americus, Ga., with administrative headquarters in Atlanta. As of 2020, Habitat for Humanity operates in all 50 U.S. states and more than 70 countries.