Habitat for Humanity goes condo
By Bob okon firstname.lastname@example.org February 15, 2013 5:04PM
David Hill, president of the board for Will County Habitat for Humanity, stands outside a condo (background) that will be rehabbed for a new homeowner as seen Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, on Third Ave. in Joliet. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 18, 2013 6:42AM
Will County Habitat for Humanity is getting its first condo, a sign of how times have changed in the housing market.
Even Habitat for Humanity, the nonprofit group known for building houses with volunteer labor so they become affordable for low-income buyers, has adapted to the “new normal,” said board President David Hill.
“We have had to adjust with the market, and I think we’ve done it,” Hill said.
Not that Will County Habitat for Humanity has stopped building houses.
In fact, later this year Habitat hopes to build its first subdivision — three houses at Summit and Stone streets in Joliet. Habitat is in the process of completing six other houses in Joliet and Lockport.
But getting the Joliet condominium was a unique opportunity, Hill said.
As workers continue to struggle with downgrades in income and face other economic challenges, it makes sense, he said, for Habitat to consider other housing options.
“The prospect of looking at condos and multifamily becomes more appealing,” Hill said.
The Joliet condo is at 205 Third Ave. It’s part of a four-unit building that the city of Joliet acquired in 2002 for its Local Homestead Program for low-income buyers. The city, however, was unable to find a buyer for the fourth unit and is giving it to Habitat.
In turn, Habitat will take responsibility for establishing a homeowners’ association that will maintain the building.
That’s a new challenge, said Annette Leck, executive director for Will County Habitat for Humanity. But, she said, it’s not one that other Habitat organizations have not tackled.
Habitat in DuPage County focuses on condo projects because of the high cost of land there, Leck said.
“They are very successful with it,” Leck said.
Habitat will be able to sell the condo at a much lower price than it can a house, so it offers an opportunity for more potential buyers.
Another unique Habitat opportunity has arisen on the far West Side of Joliet. Habitat was able to obtain a duplex that originally sold for $207,000. Habitat paid $9,100. Bank of America, which works with Habitat on a national scale, was holding the house after a foreclosure and was unable to sell it; so the bank went to Habitat.
“We’ve never done a duplex either,” Leck said. “Because of the new normal and all the foreclosures, we’re reacting to that. You can’t do things the way you always did them.”