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Kenosha woman to receive local Habitat group’s first home

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After her divorce, Janelle Ebner assumed she never would be a home owner again.

She works in a child care facility and, along with her two children, lives with her mother in the Kenosha house where Janelle grew up.

But a co-worker earlier this year suggested she apply to the newly created Habitat for Humanity of Kenosha group to be considered as a buyer for one of its houses.

She did apply and, a few weeks ago, a group of Habitat people showed up on her porch with balloons.

“I started sobbing,” she said.

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.

Planning for a Habitat chapter here has been in the works for a few years. Local affiliation with the parent organization was approved in June.

Ground breaking in October

Janelle will be the first person to own an HHK home, at 3914 14th Ave. Ground breaking is planned for Oct. 1. Completion depends on how much volunteers can work on the home.

Janelle is required to work 300 hours on the home and its lot and attend building maintenance and budgeting classes before she and her family can move in.

That’s all designed to make occupants be invested emotionally and physically as well as financially in the home, said Kerry Dietrich, HHK board president who’s worked on 50 Habitat projects elsewhere.

“You’ll see what a Habitat home does for the neighborhood,” he said. “The value of neighboring homes will go up.”

Dietrich estimated the completed house will be assessed in the $140,000 range, including the donated lot. But with donated time and materials, the house will cost about $85,000 to build, added Deanna Burton, HHK construction committee chair.

Money to build house comes through fundraisers, including a rummage sale that was held Saturday on the property. Vendors paid $5 per table to Habitat.

Donations sought

The group also is seeking donations of $100, which would pay for one square foot of a home, from local businesses, organizations and individuals. A donor then can sign the home's wooden subflooring so there would be a permanent record, although it would be covered as construction continues.

Donations can be made through Habitat’s website at or by calling 262-925-0360.

The ranch-style home will be one story, 1,000 square feet and have three bedrooms and one bathroom.

Volunteers make it happen

Meta Franklin, HHK volunteer coordinator, estimated a few hundred volunteers would be involved in building the house in addition to the several dozen who’ve worked on HHK committees in preparation.

The group now is looking into obtaining and building on two lots in Trevor.

Janelle said she’s already planned out her first activity in the new home.

“I’m going right in the kitchen and cook a meal for the three of us,” she said. “This is all so overwhelming but also exciting.”

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