During its almost 20-year existence, LaGrange County Habitat for Humanity (LCHFH) has partnered with LaGrange County families in need via two programs. Twenty-two families have been part of the new home construction program, and five have participated in A Brush with Kindness – a repair program for homeowners.
This summer, LCHFH will begin a new venture: total restoration of an existing home under the umbrella of the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative (NRI). Located in Howe, this home will be rehabilitated with partner Bill Dingley.
Instead of a hammer and saw, the first tools used here may be a crowbar and sledgehammer. The 1,700 sq. ft. home has three bedrooms and 1½ baths, a size large enough to accommodate the four children in the Dingley family. LCHFH estimates that the renovations may cost $50,000 to $55,000.
Renovation tasks could include moving walls, replacing the heating system and roof, installing new windows, rewiring, and updating the plumbing. When finished, the house, which will meet current LCHFH ”green” building standards, will be sold to the Dingley family at a 0 percent loan.
The home was purchased from The Howe School. LCHFH Executive Director Mont Arnold networked with Howe School Superintendent George Douglass at a LaGrange County Chamber of Commerce meeting. Negotiations were then facilitated with business manager Kevin Bouma, who indicated that other houses might be available for purchase from the school at a future date.
Two factors were instrumental in initiating this program. First, building costs have been increasing dramatically for stick-built homes. Second, LCHFH desires to “influence neighborhoods in a positive manner.” Arnold sees “great potential for this program’s impact on communities. Abandoned and neglected homes have a huge negative impact on communities.”
NRI is not without a learning curve. Restoring a home “requires a completely different skill set from our volunteers,” according to Arnold. “Volunteers will need to be retrained, and a different set of safety issues will need to be addressed.”
In addition to the Howe property, LCHFH is also looking for a qualifying family to partner with to rehabilitate a home that it currently owns in Stroh. Interested families may contact Mont Arnold at 260-463-8519.
LCHFH will continue to serve area families in need through its three programs: new home construction, A Brush with Kindness, and the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative.
LaGrange County Habitat for Humanity will hold its 18th Annual Benefit Auction on Aug. 2 at the Shipshewana Auction Barn. The event, which begins at 3:3 p.m., will feature an auction of locally crafted furniture and quilts, tools, a queen buggy, a certificate board, and many miscellaneous items. In addition, a haystack dinner will begin at 4 p.m., and other food items will be available, including baked items, canned beef, 4-H beef and pork, homemade ice cream, and fried pies.