Board members and Youth Build program participants work on a build.
ALTON — Most people who build a home get upfront funding for the whole project. Habitat for Humanity does it a little differently.
“We raise money as we go along,” Vicky Schiber said. She’s the public relations and fund-raising co-chair for the Alton-Godfrey chapter, an affiliate of the Lewis and Clark chapter of Collinsville. “By law, we can’t start to build until we have at least $20,000 in the bank.”
Each two-bedroom, one-bathroom house costs $70,000 to $75,000 to build.
The local organization finds itself in the unique position of having two projects going on at once in Alton. Typically, the nonprofit builds just one house per year, but special circumstances led them to start a new build while still rehabbing a house.
“We build to suit the family,” Schiber said. “The rehab house wasn’t going to work for this family, so we started the build.”
The new house on Wallace is about half done. Drywall has been installed and is ready to be painted. Cabinets and flooring will be added next. The house is next to a previously built Habitat for Humanity home and will house a family of five.
The rehab house on Moreland is for a family of four. It’s a Habitat for Humanity house that was built about 10 years ago. Fixtures have been installed, the kitchen was re-done and flooring is ready to be laid.
“We’re not in danger of running out of money on these projects, but expenses do add up (at this point of the project),” Schiber said.
To help boost the building fund, the chapter holds several fundraisers throughout the year, starting with a trivia night next month.
“Last year was the first time we hosted it,” Schiber said. “It was the night of the worst ice storm in March, but we managed to raise about $2,000.”
There’s also a golf tournament in the spring and an “attic sale” in the fall.
“We get a lot of stuff donated and if we can’t use it in a house we’re building or rehabbing, we’ll sell it,” Schiber said. “We have vendors such as Thirty-One and people can pay to have a table to sell their own stuff.”
Schiber said there’s a misconception that families are given the house for free, with no strings attached. The organization is the mortgage holder but because they aren’t a traditional lender, they’re able to make some allowances.
“Homeowners do pay a mortgage, it’s just at a reduced amount and a reduced interest rate,” she said.
Families are chosen based on three criteria: a need, their ability to pay and their willingness to put in some “sweat equity.”
“If you’re a single parent living with your parents, it’s obvious the need is there,” Schiber said. Credit histories are checked, but bad credit won’t necessarily prevent someone from being considered. “We know people can have a bad year.”
Perhaps the most important criterion is how much effort the family is willing to put into the project. The adult in the family has one year from closing on the house to finish 250 hours of “sweat equity.”
“There’s so much more to Habitat for Humanity than building a house,” Schiber said. “Tools may not be your thing. One man is disabled, so he can’t swing a hammer. He’s done a lot of community service for us instead.”
Habitat for Humanity Fundraisers
For more information on these fundraisers, as well as how to donate to a project through PayPal or a credit card, go to http://altonhabitat.org.
Second annual Mardi Gras Trivia Night
7 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 7
Trimpe Building, Lewis and Clark Community College, Godfrey
Seventh annual Four-Person Golf Scramble
1 p.m. Sunday, May 3
Spencer T. Olin Golf Course, Alton