Rockford Area Habitat For Humanity Begins Framing Houses In West-Side Subdivision Build

Rockford Area Habitat For Humanity Begins Framing Houses In West-Side Subdivision Build

ROCKFORD — This winter, Tori Turman and her four children have the chance to celebrate their first Christmas inside a home that is truly their own.

But first they have to build it.

Turman and dozens of volunteers with Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity took a major step forward in that process on Saturday for the nonprofit’s Framing Day, when four of five homes being built in a west Rockford subdivision this summer had their walls lifted and secured into their foundations.

“Up until today it felt surreal because it was just going to classes and talking about it,” Turman said of the process of owning her own home through Habitat. “Today it’s going to feel real from here on out.”

Habitat for Humanity builds safe housing for people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford to own a home. Participants pay a 0% interest mortgage and contribute up to 30% of their gross income toward those payments. They also must put in 200 partnership hours, including helping build their own home and taking financial classes.

Turman, a paraprofessional at Easterseals Academy, said it was a dream come true when she got accepted into the program. The goal is to finish construction and close on the purchase by December, so she and her children — Cainaan, 2, Cairo, 4, Camori, 11, Cordae, 13 — can celebrate their first Christmas inside.

“I wouldn’t be able to buy a house if it wasn’t for Habitat,” she said. “I would probably be renting for the rest of my life and spend loads of money that I can’t even afford to do.”

Habitat is building five homes this summer in the Emerson Estates Subdivision, which is off North Springfield Avenue near Auburn High School, Kennedy Middle School and McIntosh Elementary School. It’s also building three homes in a neighborhood south of Sandy Hollow Road.

Emerson Estates was left incomplete after the housing bubble burst in 2008. The Region 1 Planning Council secured 31 empty plots that were tax delinquent and provided them to Habitat for Humanity for about $1,000 each, which was the cost of attorneys’ fees.

Now Habitat’s team of volunteers, as well as students at local high schools in trades programs, are building on the site. It helps fill a need for affordable housing that has been difficult to come by with few developers building as the cost of materials and labor increased in recent years.

“We are in dire need of housing units,” said Keri Asevedo, executive director of Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity. “We’re going to keep doing our part for sure.”

Turman will live in what’s dubbed the Daniel Nielsen Memorial Build. The name pays homage to an Auburn High School graduate and active Habitat for Humanity volunteer who died in November 2021 after an accidental fall while with friends in California. He was 25.

His parents, Dr. John and Lisa Nielsen, have kept his legacy alive through contributions to the Rockford Habitat program.

Habitat also recieved another major contribution on Saturday morning as its work got underway. Mack Gapinski of Trajectory Energy Partners, an Illinois-based developer of solar projects, presented Asevedo with a $100,000 check. Asevedo said that’s enough to cover the construction of a home.

Habitat also ceremoniously dug shovels into the ground to mark the start of its construction season and thank its team of volunteers who make building affordable homes possible.

“This is life-changing,” Asevedo said. “We are unbelievably humbled at the work we get to do in this community.”

Last year, Habitat built six houses in the Emerson Estates Subdivision. Five are complete and Guilford High School students will finish off the sixth before the school year concludes.

“The families that we serve, the ripples that we create throughout our community, is something that hits deep down in my soul,” said Glasa Gottschalk, president of the local Habitat board.

Source: Rock River Current

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