McHENRY – When Habitat for Humanity gives a family keys to a new house, Kathy Haupt loves watching children’s faces.
“These are kids that had to move every year, change schools constantly, didn’t make friends because they were moving, or were in and out of shelters, and when you bring them to their new home, it’s pure joy,” said Haupt, the nonprofit’s service coordinator.
Habitat for Humanity of McHenry County is looking for deserving families for 2018 home builds and repairs, Haupt said.
“It’s a big deal because when I first came here in 2010, we were doing two houses with no repairs, and now we are doing more homes and repairs and helping many more people within our county,” Haupt said.
Repairs can include anything from yard cleanup to major electrical repairs.
So far for 2018, the McHenry organization has plans to build in Wonder Lake and Harvard. Haupt said it is trying to build a pool of families so that once property is purchased, the organization can fit families into houses.
“Our mission is to spread the word, because nobody wants to say, ‘We are living in a shelter’ or ‘We lost our home and are living at our grandmother’s house,’ ” Haupt said. “Adults in the workplace don’t want to admit they are struggling.”
To be eligible for a home, a person must be at least 18 years old; a U.S. citizen or legal resident; willing to live anywhere in McHenry County; able to save for a cash down payment of $1,000 and pay back a low-interest mortgage; not be able to qualify for a conventional mortgage; be steadily employed or have a reliable income; and be willing to help build the home.
The requirement to live in McHenry County was changed for 2018 after the organization was building more than other affiliates, Haupt said, allowing them to reach out further.
For example, Lake County’s program does not offer repairs, so if the property is close to McHenry County’s boundaries, Habitat for Humanity of McHenry County will work on the project.
Mortgages are no more than 30 percent of the family’s income, Haupt said. There also are income requirements depending on family size, which can be found at www.habitatmchenry.org/becoming-a-habitat-homeowner. Interested families can call Habitat for Humanity at 815-759-9002.
“We watch our families grow, and if it wasn’t for a little helping hand, they’d stay in poverty,” Haupt said. “With that little bit of help, these kids are making the honor roll and planning for college – dreams they never thought could come true.”