Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

March 31, 2013

Building dreams, building homes

Habitat for Humanity celebrates 25 years of outreach

The family was made of up two migrant farmworkers and three young children. They lived in a one-bedroom house with no water and a broken stove. Two of the children shared a single bed on the enclosed porch. In 1996, they moved into their new three-bedroom house on East Dixon Street.

She was a single mother with three children. For years, they moved from trailer park to trailer park trying to save enough money to put a down payment on a house, but no bank would give her a loan.

At midnight Jan. 1, 2000, 70 volunteers showed up to begin construction of their Habitat for Humanity home. It was a special way for the organization to bring in the new millennium. The house was ready for them to move in a few months later.

A couple with four kids was forced to move into a dilapidated house after the husband suffered a heart attack and lost his job.

The building was nearly unlivable. The foundation was cracked. With no cabinets, they stored food on top of the washing machine. A gaping crack at the bottom of the kitchen wall allowed creatures including frogs, mice and cats to climb through.

The family moved into a five bedroom Habitat home with polished wood floors, ample kitchen space and two full bathrooms on South Apperson Way last year.

This year marks 25 years since Habitat for Humanity came to Kokomo. Since then, hundreds of volunteers have poured more than 150,000 hours into building 50 homes that have changed the lives of as many families.

A success story lives within each one of those homes, said Greg Hoppes, a volunteer who’s worked on every Habitat build in the city since the local chapter’s founding in 1988.

Hoppes, 66, was there when a group of volunteers first decided to form a committee to look into bringing an affiliate chapter of Habitat for Humanity to Kokomo.

He said once they started investigating what the organization was all about, he felt compelled to help.

“It made a lot of sense to me once I started looking into it,” Hoppes said. “I agreed with their principles. The houses aren’t a give away. Owners have to work on it, and they have to pay for it. When you put those factors together, and you bring in the Christian aspect, it made a lot of sense to me.”

The payment process works like this: Habitat holds the mortgage on the homes and recipient families pay the organization back without interest. Families must fall within income limits to ensure they can make the monthly payments. A family of four would need to have a monthly gross income between $1,550 and $2,590.

Families must also put in 250 hours of “sweat equity” helping build their home.

Hoppes said it made sense to bring the organization to Kokomo, where he observed families living in poverty during the city’s tough economic climate in the late 1980s.

“Poverty housing doesn’t mean you’re living in a shack,” he said. “It could mean you’re strapped with high rent or utility bills you can’t afford, and that keeps you in poverty. We had that right here in Kokomo. There are people barely getting by paycheck to paycheck. If something happens — a car breaks down, somebody gets sick — then a bill doesn’t get paid. Habitat wants to help these people, and that breaks the cycle of poverty.”

But the group’s quarter century in the city has impacted more than just the families moving into new homes. Hoppes said it’s also improved the housing market throughout Kokomo.

“When we build a house in a neighborhood, the whole area improves within a year or two,” he said. “Once we build, the other homes have to catch up to us because you have to keep up with the Joneses.”

Robin Symonds, board president of the Kokomo chapter, said the organization has put more than $250,000 back on the tax roll by building new houses. He said Habitat has been the largest home builder on the city’s northwest side — an area city officials have eyed for possible improvements.

“We’re building on lots that are usually not economically feasible for most people,” he said.

Habitat has, on average, built two homes every year for the last 25 years, but Executive Director Mark Sloss said it wants to start building four or five houses every year.

That means more concentrated fundraising efforts in the future, he said, and raising public awareness about the group.

“We’re doing good work, but there’s still people who don’t know that Habitat is in Kokomo,” he said.

The organization also has discussed opening a retail store similar to Goodwill. ReStores in other communities sell donated items like stoves, siding and other building supplies to help raise money for future projects.

Hoppes said all the fundraising has a very specific goal: To give families in need a place to call home and break the cycle of poverty.

“It gives kids a very safe and stable home life,” he said. “The result of that is they do better in school, go to college, and move up in the world. We never see them in the cycle of poverty. It’s about the kids.”

Carson Gerber is a Kokomo Tribune reporter. He may be reached at 765-854-6739, or by email at carson.gerber@kokomotribune.com.

For more on this story and other local news, subscribe to The Kokomo Tribune eEdition, or our print edition

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • NWS - KT072514 - Maconaquah celebrates 50 years - CLG Maconaquah alumni return to celebrate school's 50th anniversary Many fond memories were shared recently as 50 years of Maconaquah graduates gathered to celebrate as many years of Maconaquah High School history.But for all the reminiscing that took place, there was an equal amount of well wishes for “the next 50 y

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Spirits high at Brickyard 400 SPEEDWAY – Despite threatening skies and chances of rain, fans at the Brickyard 400 were not disheartened by the forecast. Brickyard 400 race day dawned with rain and fog, and the sun broke through the clouds at mid-morning. Fans expected the race to

    July 27, 2014

  • NWS - KT072614 - Five Below Grand Opening - pic Five Below opening draws crowds

    Mary Martin is the director of marketing and business development for Markland Mall and, with four grandchildren, she's also a consumer looking for cost-effective deals which still leave her — and the kids — feeling satisfied. Martin was able to purc

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mud battle 01 Mud Battle at Oakbrook Church challenges participants

    Challenges are nothing knew to Army Specialist Anthony Walton. An Afghanistan veteran, who was injured in 2011, Walton has endured some of the worst conditions imaginable. While in Afghanistan, Walton was shot more than 30 times in his left arm durin

    July 27, 2014 3 Photos

  • Indiana fruit crops take another weather beating BEDFORD, Ind. (AP) — The polar vortex that plunged Indiana into a deep freeze in January has taken a toll on the state's peach crop, and an April cold snap has done the same for apples. Orchard owners are bringing in peaches from out of state and sa

    July 27, 2014

  • 931 business 02 Opening of new US 31 appears to have had little effect on local business The new U.S. 31 bypass came with a litany of questions for local businesses. How would the changes in traffic patterns affect sales? How long would it take to see the full effect from that change in traffic patterns? What is the long-term prognosis f

    July 27, 2014 3 Photos

  • 1969 Kokomo grads share space stories On July 20, 1969, astronaut Neil Armstrong stepped down the ladder of the lunar module “Eagle” and uttered those immortal words, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”Best friends Dave Hudson and Greg McCauley, who had just graduated f

    July 27, 2014

  • first dirilyte Dirilyte alloy: Definitely not a Kokomo first As with many of the so-called City of Firsts’ inventions, Dirilyte was definitely not a Kokomo first, Dave Broman, executive director of the Howard County Historical Society, said.“Dirilyte is a little more clear-cut,” Broman said of research in the

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ride to help fight breast cancer WABASH — The Moonshine Cowboys Ride for a Cause will be Saturday at Scotty’s Bar, 780 Manchester Ave. Registration begins at 10 a.m. and kickstands are up at noon.The cost is $20 per person, and proceeds will go to fight inflammatory breast cancer. I

    July 27, 2014

  • SCP KT 072714 Innovation Symposium pic IUK Innovation Symposium receives grant for 2015 program A grant from the Indiana University Women’s Philanthropy Council will allow more students to participate in IU Kokomo’s Innovation Symposium overseas travel program.The grant will cover travel expenses for eight to 10 students to spend three weeks in

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

Latest news
Featured Ads
Only on our website
AP Video
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Obituaries