Habitat’s first family excited for new home

BY JOHN KREROWICZ
jkrerowicz@kenoshanews.com
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Being emotional is not part of Juan Vega’s makeup. But when he heard his family had been chosen for the first Habitat for Humanity house in Kenosha, he was excited.

“It’s been good news ever since they told us,” said Vega during a Saturday ceremony at the site for the home, 3914 14th Ave. “This is a great opportunity. I’m nervous now but also still excited.”

Vega and his wife, Zenaida, and children, Angela, 12, Luis, 15, and Maria, 19, were selected for the home because, among other reasons, their responses to interview questions were sincere, said Ed Hauser, Habitat-Kenosha Chapter Family Partnership Committee chairman.

“We really believe in you guys,” Hauser told the family at the gathering.

He later added, “They might not have always had perfect answers, but they had authentic answers. When we asked whether they’d cooperate and work with us on some financial matters, they didn’t hesitate or look at each other as if to ask themselves, ‘What should we tell them?’ They came out and said yes. Even on the less comfortable questions, their answers were from the heart.”

Ground-breaking is planned for Sept. 7. The home could be ready by summer 2014.

The two-story home is to include four bedrooms and 1½ baths. The family must contribute 400 hours of “sweat equity,” or their own labor, in preparing the house.

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

Nicole Jurgens, Habitat-Kenosha Chapter family selection committee chairwoman, said Janelle Ebner, who originally was selected last year to buy the home on the donated lot, needs more time to complete financial matters. Ebner still wants a home, and Habitat wants to build her one, said Jurgens.

Fundraising since last year included $22,000 from a golf outing and $25,000 from the Mary Frost Ashley Charitable Trust from Chicago, said Jurgens. The chapter is near having enough money for two homes.

The chapter has talked about building a home in Trevor. Jurgens said that’s still a possibility.

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

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 based on the amount spent to build them. Mortgage payments fund future home building.

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