Habitat for Humanity to build again in fall


HUNTINGBURG — Despite strain caused by COVID-19, Executive Director Michael Richard said he is proud of Habitat for Humanity of Dubois County for finishing its most recent home on schedule.

Richard, who started his director role in May 2020, said it wouldn’t have been possible without a strong board of directors and passionate volunteers.

“They put their heart and soul into what they do, so that’s been very helpful,” he said.

The local organization recently finished its 18th home build in Jasper, which was done through a partnership with the Patoka Valley School Cooperative and Vincennes University Jasper. This allowed students in the construction trades program to do hands-on work with the home.

Richard said the students learned a lot and the nonprofit benefited from their consistent work despite the obstacles that come with beginning a new program.

“It was a learning experience,” he said. “That was the first time they had done anything like that … we’re currently working out the kinks and figuring out how to make it better.”

Applications for the upcoming build — on land in Huntingburg — officially closed last Friday, but the nonprofit will likely still accept a few late applications if needed. After the applicants are interviewed, a family should be chosen in June. Then, the build will begin in late August or early September, Richard said.

Dubois County’s Habitat for Humanity is a chapter of Habitat for Humanity International, a Christian ministry that works to eliminate substandard housing in the communities where it exists.

“We have a lot of times where you have overcrowding, dangerous housing, not enough housing,” Richard said. “We’ve solved situations where we have a family of five living in a one- or two-bedroom apartment or something like that.”

However, the nonprofit doesn’t simply give the homes away, he said. The homeowners have to then volunteer with the organization and pay interest-free mortgage, which then becomes funding to help build future homes.

Beyond the upcoming build in the fall, the organization is always looking for additional properties for future builds.

“We don’t have the budget to spend $50,000 on a piece of property for one house because we don’t want to pass those costs onto the homebuyer,” Richard said. “So we are always looking for donations or opportunities for us to refurbish a piece of land that needs cleaned up or something.”

As economic recovery from COVID-19 continues, Richard said he hopes the organization will be able to complete two builds a year — one with the student partnerships and one with other volunteers — and do more critical repairs to existing homes and add more features such as accessibility ramps.

Anyone interested in donating, volunteering or learning more about Habitat for Humanity of Dubois County can reach Richard at 812-704-8441 or michael@duboishabitat.org.

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