On Saturday, Habitat for Humanity of Champaign County Ohio (HFHCCO) will celebrate the completion of its sixth home during a dedication ceremony in which the keys to a new home at 247 W. Twain Ave. in Urbana will be handed over to the McConnell family.
“This new home is a new beginning for us and one of the greatest blessings,” said Angela McConnell, who along with her husband, Nathan, will live in the home with their five children, three of whom will be living there full time while the two others will stay every other weekend. “Our home we live in now isn’t in the best of shape. We have only ever rented and always felt like we were wasting our money away instead of investing it into a home we would have forever.”
Marcia Ward, volunteer executive director for HFHCCO, said construction on the 1,120-square-foot home began in August 2014. The home has three bedrooms, one bath, an open living/dining/kitchen area, laundry room and a furnace closet. The property also contains a storage shed.
“The home has a range and frig provided by Whirlpool, who is a great supporter of Habitat,” Ward said. “The home is air conditioned and has kitchen cabinets, washer and dryer, garbage disposal, dishwasher, microwave, and hardwood and tile floors.”
Like all Habitat’s builds, Ward said, the home’s insulation, doors and windows meet the standards of an Energy Star home, and all equipment purchased to maintain the home is energy efficient.
As for the cost of building the home, Ward said, “We try our best to keep (all homes) under $68,000, and we are extremely frugal and appreciative of every penny or dime that is donated to HFHCCO.”
Choosing the homeowner
To submit an application to be considered for a HFHCCO home, an applicant(s) must live in the county at least a year, be employed and never have owned a home.
“When the applications have been submitted, the HFHCCO Selection/Orientation Committee reviews them and if all items are included, we then do a home visit,” Ward said. “We look at need, financial stability, employment, and, of course, the home visit tells us much about the ability of the applicant to maintain a home.”
Over the past few years, the number of applications submitted to HFHCCO has been on the rise Ward said, adding every applicant must have at least $1,000 in escrow for moving expenses and must be willing to attend meetings/conferences regarding financial responsibility.
McConnell said she and her husband submitted an application to HFHCCO during a rough time in their lives. Not only was the family renting a home that was becoming increasingly unsafe, but the couple’s oldest daughter was battling stage 4 cancer.
While the McConnells dreamed of finding a safe home they could call their own, one thing stood in the way – financing that dream home.
“The only problem was we just weren’t able to get a conventional home loan ourselves,” McConnell said. “We knew we needed out of this home because it just gets worse and worse.”
Luckily for the McConnells, HFHCCO is in the business of helping make home buying a reality for those dreaming of becoming first-time homeowners.
“We were so excited when we found out we were picked for the home, and it couldn’t have come at better time,” McConnell said. “We found out we were chosen a couple months after we were told our 16-year-old daughter, at the time, was in remission from stage 4 Hodgkin’s lymphoma.”
Contrary to popular belief, Habitat for Humanity doesn’t give away homes. Instead, the McConnells are financing the West Twain Avenue home through a no-interest loan offered by HFHCCO.
“The homeowner pays a mortgage monthly to HFHCCO that includes their house payment, insurance and taxes,” Ward said. “The owners of the homes pay HFHCCO monthly just as they would if they bought the home from another provider.”
Ward stated HFHCCO uses the mortgage payment to build its next home.
“It is crucial that the homeowner maintains their agreement to pay monthly, and after we have 10 homes built we hope to be self-sufficient if everyone pays their mortgage monthly,” she said.
Along with paying the monthly mortgage, each homeowner is required to put in at least 250 hours of “sweat equity” during the build.
“Each homeowner must maintain a journal with his/her hours, and they are permitted to have 125 hours donated to them from other workers who might wish to share in this way,” Ward said.
The dedication ceremony for the home will take place at 3 p.m. on Saturday at 247 W. Twain Ave.
Ward said the community is invited to celebrate in the completion of the local Habitat for Humanity build, and those in attendance will be allowed to tour the new home.
Hot dogs, chips and cookies will be served during the ceremony compliments of Kroger and Mumford’s Potato Chips & Deli.
“It is a great time to share in community and the importance of providing hope for families who desire a decent home,” Ward said.
McConnell said she is thankful for everything HFHCCO has done for her family.
“Being first-time homeowners means so many different things to us, but one big one is knowing we will now have a home that is ours that is safe for our family to come home to every day, she said. “With the low payments, we won’t have to struggle anymore, and we can finally focus on our family and not have to worry.”
Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-652-1331 (ext. 1774) or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.