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
  • 400SUnion.jpg Counties move forward with flood mitigation one year later

    One by one, properties were bulldozed from the neighborhood between Carter and Murden streets in downtown Kokomo, physically erasing evidence of residential flooding in an area long prone to it.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Flooded area - E Murden 01 Jaimz family seeks closure after losing everything Ashley Jaimz and her sister, Amanda Urbina, took a drive through the Cedar Crest neighborhood the other day to view how residents were faring in the wake of a Nov. 17 tornado. The drive was intended to provide some closure to Jaimz, who is still stru

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • NWS - FEMA 03 Kokomo resident whose basement collapsed during flood repairs own home

    Walter Raderstorf can still remember sitting in his living room inside his home on West Park Avenue, realizing he had escaped a brush with death. “I was in the basement carrying stuff up and I came in here and sat down,” he said. “It wasn’t 30 second

    April 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • Late Kokomo teacher dedicates estate to foundation Longtime Kokomo School Corp. teacher Holly Kirkpatrick will continue to have a positive impact on students thanks to a $38,000 donation from her estate to the Kokomo Public Schools Education Foundation. Kirkpatrick died in November 2012 after teachin

    April 20, 2014

  • flood anniversary Thomas family ready to move on after flood In the Thomas household, few things take precedent over baseball. You’d be hard-pressed to find a couple more dedicated to youth baseball in Kokomo — or anywhere else for that matter — than Michael and Lashanda Thomas, who have passed that love of th

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • EasterEgg hunt 10 'Controlled chaos' at city's Easter egg hunt With buckets and Easter baskets in hand, hundreds of kids 10 years old and younger packed Kokomo's Northwest Park Saturday to see who could grab up the most Easter eggs. Organizers split the kids up in three age groups, 0 to 3, 4 to 6 and 7 to 10, wi

    April 20, 2014 4 Photos

  • NWS-FloodFollowDay2-15.jpg April flood brought people together to bail out community

    [Editor’s note: On April 19, 2013, a record flood hit Howard and Tipton counties. Today, we look at some of the financial aspects of the flood. In Sunday’s edition, look for stories about people who were affected, what has changed in the floodplains and how the communities are moving forward.]

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • NWS-KT041914-TwoinjuredinMiamiCocrash-CLG-pic.jpeg Two injured in Miami County crash

    PERU — Two people were injured Thursday afternoon in a two-vehicle crash at the intersection of U.S. 24 and Ind. 19.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Farmer loses seat belt fight on appeal

    Denver-area farmer Thomas Fox doesn’t like to wear his seat belt.
    But after his lengthy fight with the Indiana courts over a seat belt violation, Fox may be rethinking his stance.

    April 19, 2014

  • NSC establishes number of transfers

    Northwestern School Corp. has decided how many transfer students the district can accept next school year in compliance with the state's relatively new open enrollment law. This is the first time Northwestern has announced vacancies at each grade lev

    April 19, 2014

Latest news
Featured Ads
Only on our website
AP Video
Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest
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