By Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer
Habitat for Humanity is currently building its 13th home in Morrison County, but none of them are in Royalton. Habitat and the city of Royalton would like to see that change.
“We cover the entire county,” said Habitat Executive Director Kathy Kahlhamer. “Habitat homes are now in Motley, Randall, Pierz and Little Falls. But there isn’t one in Royalton.”
Habitat for Humanity helps low-income families own a home who otherwise would not be able to qualify for home ownership.
“They have to pay for the homes,” Kahlhamer said. “They pay a mortgage the same as other mortgages, except that there is a 0 percent interest rate with a Habitat mortgage.”
While Habitat does not receive any government grant funding, funds are raised by small grants, generous donations of many folks and a lot of fundraising.
Building costs are reduced by thousands of hours of volunteer labor. Many businesses donate materials to Habitat, which is a 501(c)3 organization. Services are often donated as well.
“We build simple, decent, affordable homes,” said Kahlhamer. “The homes are patio homes, with the size of each home depending on the size of the family.”
Partner families must have a housing need, such as present housing which is unsafe or overcrowded, or by spending more than one-third of their income on rent.
Families must be able to make the monthly mortgage payment.
“The families must work at least 300 hours of ‘sweat equity’ toward the building of the home,” Kahlhamer said.
Applicants must have lived in Morrison county for at least one year.
“The homes have in-floor heat, an air exchanger and energy-efficient materials.,” said Kahlhamer. “We are working on a green building grant right now, and build to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) specifications.”
Habitat homeowners from across Minnesota were surveyed in 2011. Eighty-eight percent of them feel better about their kids’ futures after moving into their own Habitat home. Sixty-three percent believe their children’s study habits improved. More than 80 percent feel safer and believe their children are safer.
“I’m really hoping there will be someone who will want to apply for a Habitat home in our city,” said Mayor Andrea Lauer. “I believe it would be a good way for people to have a wonderful home.”
“We would love to build in Royalton,” Kahlhamer said. “The location of the home is determined by where the applicant lives. I’m sure there are people who live in the area who qualify; we just need to connect with them.”
“We look forward to having a Habitat family be part of our community,”Lauer said.
For more information, call (320) 616-2084.