Habitat for Humanity breaks ground for first house in Kenosha

BY JOHN KREROWICZ
jkrerowicz@kenoshanews.com
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The Jose Vega family is now several shovelfuls of dirt closer to owning a home.

They, Habitat for Humanity of Kenosha members, and others shoved the blades of nine digging tools into the earth at 3914 14th Ave. on Saturday morning to get the process started.

“Seeing the smile on my wife’s face and seeing the kids’ happiness, that’s what makes me happy,” Vega said after the ground-breaking.

Building sweat equity

Jose, wife Zenaida, and children Angela, 12, Luis, 15 and Maria, 19, will be investing 400 hours of their own time in helping build the two-story home with four bedrooms and 1½ baths, as required by the Habitat group.

The residence is expected to cost about $80,000, including materials and labor for plumbing and electrical work, to complete. The estimated assessed value after construction is about $160,000.

The home could be ready by summer 2014.

Contributing to homeownership

The worldwide Habitat organization relies on donations and volunteers to build houses for those in need. Families obtain a no-interest mortgage from Habitat to buy the houses. Mortgage payments fund future home building.

Local affiliation with the parent organization was approved in June 2012.

The Vega family will be the first to own a Habitat for Humanity house in Kenosha County.

Those who want to volunteer to build the Vega house should call Habitat at 262-925-0360 to be scheduled.

Second one soon?

The next home might be built sooner than expected, suggested Kerry Dietrich, Habitat board president. He told the crowd of about 55 at the ground-breaking ceremony that someone called Thursday and wanted to donate a lot at 6726 12th Ave.

Dietrich earlier in the ceremony gave the family the home’s building plans.

“Habitat does build houses but it also does so much more: builds relationships, partnerships and community in an effort to eliminate sub-standard housing,” he told the crowd.

He also gave family members yellow T-shirts to identify them as future homeowners among the volunteers who will helping complete the house.

Apply yourself

Nicole Jurgens, Habitat of Kenosha family selection committee chairwoman, said the organization is changing its application process.

It is not accepting applications now, she said, but copies will be available at the Habitat office, 6203 28th Ave., other community sites and at the group’s website, www.habitatkenosha.org, by the end of the year. Applications will be reviewed quarterly.

The new approach is expected to yield better results than the previous arrangement of holding orientation sessions for those interested, she said.

Jurgens said the Habitat office had an estimated 20 calls the past few months from people wanting details about owning homes through the program.

“We’ve seen a steady increase in interest,” she said.

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