KENDALLVILLE — Habitat for Humanity will be getting a buildable lot in old-town Kendallville, clearing the way for a home to be built this year.
Ideally it will be one of three that Habitat puts up around the region this year, especially after COVID-19 put the kibosh on its public projects in 2020.
But what Habitat needs now is a family able and willing to occupy the house, when done.
The construction gears are in motion as Tuesday the Kendallville Board of Works and Public Safety approved selling a vacant lot west of the downtown to Habitat.
Kendallville previously took ownership of and cleared a condemned home at 121 Newnam Ave., located five blocks west of downtown’s Main Street between Mitchell and Rush streets.
The city, which currently has ownership and maintenance responsibilities for the lot, however, has agreed to sell the lot to Habitat for Humanity to allow the nonprofit to build a new single-family home there.
The city is selling the lot for $10, with Mayor Suzanne Handshoe noting that the transfer will allow Habitat to build a new home for someone in need and thereby put the lot back on the city tax rolls.
Habitat for Humanity of Northeast Indiana’s Executive Director Marianne Stanley hopes the Newnam home will be one of three the organization gets to construct in 2021.
“It is our goal to build this year and we talked to Suzanne and we are in the works,” Stanley said, adding that she’s hopeful Habitat can partner with construction trades students from Impact Institute to help in the build, although that hasn’t been finalized yet.
Stanley said Habitat last built in Kendallville in 2014, putting up a home on Riley Street near Big C Lumber.
Habitat started locally in DeKalb County in 1988 but has since grown to include Steuben and Noble counties in its service area, building more than 60 homes over the years, Stanley said.
LaGrange County has its own Habitat for Humanity chapter separate from the three-county group.
Outside of Kendallville, Habitat of Northeast Indiana has plans to build in Waterloo and Angola in 2021, too, Stanley said.
Outside of new home construction, Habitat also has a critical repair program offering zero-interest loans to those who need major structural repairs and also runs a free handicap ramp building program that has benefited numerous people in the region with mobility needs.
But before Habitat gets building this summer in Kendallville, there’s one other thing the organization needs — a beneficiary.
“I have the land, I have the funds, I just don’t have a family right now,” Stanley said. “And that requires that they need to fall within certain income guidelines.”
Those income brackets depend on household size, but can range from as low as $14,150 for a single person at “extremely low” income to as high as $71,150, which is “low income” for a household of eight or more.
For a four-person household, the threshold would fall between $26,200-$53,900. In Kendallville, which has lower median incomes than Noble County as a whole, there could therefore be numerous people who would be eligible if only they’d apply.
Stanley also hoped to clear up some common misconceptions about both that income level and family size — Habitat houses aren’t free homes so there is some repayment, but also that they don’t only go to “families” as in people with children.
Single people, couples and seniors even can apply for the chance to become a Habitat homeowner, as well as those households with children ranging from diapers to drivers. As long as applicants meet the income eligibility and have the ability to handle housing payments, they can be considered.
“This is a low-interest mortgage. We want to make sure they can pay it back. (Their income) must be high enough to support a mortgage but not too high to support a traditional loan,” Stanley said. “They do have to pay it back. We’re not handing them a house.”
Those who think they qualify and are interested or people who have questions or need information can reach out to Stanley at 925-2508 or visit hfhnei.org for more details.
Habitat for Humanity is also always accepting donations to support current and future programs. Anyone interested in supporting the nonprofit can mail donations to P.O. Box 620 Auburn, IN, 46706 or call Stanley to make arrangements.