Habitat for Humanity has been restoring houses in Dallas County throughout this year, including five houses in Perry in late September. On Friday, Dec. 16, one of those houses was dedicated in a celebration with the community and the soon-to-be owners.
Jenny, Jesus and their toddler, Rebecca of Perry will officially close on the house at 306 7th Street and become its first owners since it was restored by Habitat for Humanity. Sponsors, community members, members of the Habitat for Humanity team and more were on hand to celebrate Jenny and Jesus’s future ownership of the house.
Volunteers for Habitat for Humanity build and restore houses in communities and those who meet certain requirements are able to buy the houses with an affordable mortgage.
Jenny and Jesus decided to apply for the program when Jenny was pregnant. A social worker who taught her about ways to take care of herself as a first time mother discovered that they had mold in their room at their previous residence.
“She did everything she could to find different resources or places we could apply for to probably move out from that place that wasn’t safe for our health,” Jenny said. “She gave us this application, we applied and we gave it a try.”
She said that they applied in December of last year, so it has taken about a year for them to go through the program and move into their new home.
In order to be able to purchase a Habitat for Humanity home, the family must contribute “sweat equity” for a minimum of 300 hours for a previously owned home and 400 hours for a new built home. They can contribute their sweat equity by helping work on their own home, other homes, in the Habitat for Humanity ReStore and at special events.
If they are able, at least 100 hours of their sweat equity must be worked on the construction of a house.
They also have to complete Blueprint to Homeownership Education Series, which teaches them about the finances of owning a home as well as the maintenance required.
Being so close to officially owning the home, Jesus said that all they had to go through to get here was worth it. Jesus and Jenny also said that it has made it feel more special since they played a part in the construction of the home.
“Right now when I walk into the living room, it’s like ‘oh, I helped put this floor on,’ and it’s exciting to see that we learned different things working with them,” Jenny said. “It means a lot.”
Jesus went on to say that it was “really fun” to work with the team from Habitat for Humanity.
“They will teach you how to do stuff, they will be professional about things and they will have fun doing it,” Jesus said.
Jesus said that intend to stay involved with Habitat for Humanity and would encourage others to get involved and to apply as well.
“You’re not just doing it for yourself, you’re doing it for other people,” Jesus said.
The House Dedication kicked off at 11 a.m. with a welcome from Lance Henning, President and Vice Director of Greater Des Moines Habitat for Humanity, an introduction of the family by Amber Petersen, Family Services Director for the organization, the recognition of sponsors, including Iowa Finance Authority, an invocation, scripture reading, litany of life and presentation of a bible, all by Pastor Jeremy Winter of Mt. Olivet Lutheran Church, the presentation of the keys by Terri Rosonke of Iowa Finance Authority and housewarming gifts from the organization and from Sven Peterson, Perry City Administrator.
Henning said that he loves the celebrations and the home dedications.
“A moment that every family reacts a little bit different to but there’s always that sense of appreciation and it’s a partnership in the way we try to work with them,” Henning said. “So between them doing the sweat equity and homeowners classes and their buying the house, all that in combination, so for me, it’s just a special moment of knowing that what I do is making a difference for them.”
With just nine days separating the house dedication and Christmas, Henning also said that it’s a special time to be able to do an event like this.
“Knowing that their family is going to be in for the holidays and be able to celebrate Christmas in their new home, I think that’s meaningful,” Henning said.
Jesus said that he was not expecting the turnout they had for the event. Those in attendance lined the walls all the way around the living room and into the kitchen of the house.
“It is great, having all of these people show up to support my family,” Jesus said. “It means a lot… because it shows that they are here for us.”