Habitat for Humanity of Ottawa County in search of land to build homes

Jun 18, 2024 | Around Ottawa County | 0 comments

Habitat for Humanity of Ottawa County is seeking the community’s help in identifying land to purchase in order to establish a new subdivision. Having built four homes over the last few years, Habitat now finds itself with more qualified families in need of affordable homeownership opportunities but no place for any new development. As such, the organization is calling on local landowners, businesses and community members to join in this effort and help identify land that Habitat can purchase to build homes on.

According to Debi Heiks, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity of Ottawa County, the organization offers a “hand up, not a handout” and works to empower families and provide them with a path to homeownership. Habitat does not provide subsidized housing, which is a common misconception. Rather, families purchase their homes through affordable mortgage loans and contribute significant sweat equity by working on the construction of their own homes and those of their neighbors. Habitat’s unique model ensures that homeowners are vested in the process, creating a sense of accomplishment and pride.

“We are excited about the possibility of creating a new subdivision in Ottawa County,” Heiks said. “Our goal is to provide families with the opportunity to own a home through hard work and dedication. This isn’t just about building houses; it’s about building hope and stability for families in Ottawa County.”

Heiks shared that the goal is to find enough land to build 18 homes in the next 10 years. While anyone can apply with Habitat, she notes the following criteria:

Prospective Habitat homeowners must demonstrate a need for safe, affordable housing. Need varies from community to community.

Prospective households are low to moderate income.

Once selected, Habitat homeowners must partner with Habitat throughout the process, including performing “sweat equity,” or helping to build their own home or the homes of others in the homeownership program. Sweat equity can also include taking homeownership classes or performing volunteer work in a Habitat ReStore. The Ottawa County ReStore is set to open in the fall of 2024.

Homeowners must also be able and willing to pay an affordable mortgage. Habitat makes a reasonable effort to ensure that an affordable mortgage does not exceed 30% of the homeowner’s gross monthly income. Mortgage payments are then cycled back into the community to help build additional Habitat houses.

Ottawa County, like many communities across the nation, is experiencing a housing shortage that leaves many families struggling to find affordable places to live. Habitat for Humanity’s proposed subdivision aims to assist in alleviating this crisis by increasing the availability of affordable homes. This initiative not only helps individual families but also strengthens the broader community by fostering economic stability and neighborhood revitalization.

“The need for affordable housing in Ottawa County is critical,” said Becky Bolander, President of the Board of Directors for Habitat in Ottawa County. “By partnering with local landowners and businesses, we can create a lasting impact. This project will strengthen the fabric of our community by helping families achieve their dreams of homeownership.”

If you know of land or have land available to purchase, please contact Debi Heiks directly at 419-734-7074 or HabitatOttawaCo@gmail.com.

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