Habitat brings hammers, saws to downtown Joliet
By Bob Okon email@example.com August 19, 2012 4:14PM
Bud Herman, left, and Dennis Kirscher get some wood ready for the Habitat For Humanity home they are starting to build in a parking lot just North of the Harrah's Casino in Joliet, IL on Friday August 17, 2012. | Matt Marton~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 21, 2012 6:16AM
JOLIET — You, too, can help build a house, Will County Habitat for Humanity wants people to know.
That’s why Habitat, the local chapter of the worldwide organization that uses volunteer labor to help low-income workers move into affordable new homes, has started construction of its next house in downtown Joliet.
Construction started Friday, and the frame of the house was built. It will be moved Sept. 3 to a site in Lockport Township where it will be completed. But for now it is at a parking lot at the corner of Joliet and Cass streets putting Habitat’s cause on display in hopes of attracting donors who will help pay for the project.
“This is the house that the community built,” said David Hill, president of Habitat’s board of directors. “We don’t want to take one nickel from our budget. We want the community to raise this house up.”
Public can help
To that effect, Habitat is inviting the public to write messages on 2-by-4s at the rate of $5 a board to help pay for the house. Habitat needs to raise about $85,000 to cover its costs.
Habitat also seeks donors who might contribute larger amounts to fund the furnace, floors, doors and other parts of the house.
Buyers of the houses do have to repay Habitat, although at a reasonable rate with no interest. But the donations cover the cost of the house now.
Rebekah McMurtry, future owner of the house under construction downtown, said she was “so excited” to have the opportunity to own a house. “There are no words that can express the feeling.”
But she was able to talk about the Habitat program that includes credit and budget counseling along with lessons in maintenance and other aspects of home ownership.
“If it wasn’t for Habitat, I don’t think I could even have a house,” said McMurtry, who looks forward to a yard for her 2-year-old son to play in. McMurtry said Habitat helped her clean up her credit and develop a budget plan to repay the home loan and prepare for the costs of home maintenance.
Volunteers pitch in
Volunteers from Peace Memorial Church in Palos Park built the frame, and many of them will continue working on the house when it is moved to Lockport Township.
“We’ve been doing this type of thing for five years,” church member Dennis Kirscher said. This is the 12th house frame that church volunteers have put together, he said.
“You get to work with your hands,” Kirscher said. “I’m an optometrist, so I don’t get a lot of chances to do this kind of work. And, it’s something where you’re helping people.”
The way Hill sees it Habitat helps build families as well as houses, because the houses create a better living environment than crowded apartments.
“There are a lot of needs out there but nothing more than the family unit,” he said. “I can’t tell you how many families come together because of what we do here.”