MONROE - Julie Payne has a brand new home to call her own thanks to Habitat for Humanity of Monroe and construction technology students at Monroe High School.
Ms. Payne, 41, said she and her children, Hunter, 4, Jordan, 7, and Kayle, 10, will be moving into the 1200-square-foot ranch home at 1748 Oak St. later this month.
The house will be a significant improvement over her current residence, which is a mobile home in Newport, she added.
"It's still hard to believe," the single mother said.
Her home is the 46th Habitat for Humanity house built in Monroe County and the fourth such project to include the high school's construction students, according to Bobb Vergiels, spokesman for the Monroe school district.
Sally Pritchett, Habitat for Humanity's resource development director, said Ms. Payne will buy the house for about $80,000, which is about what it cost to build.
Habitat will finance the purchase, at 0.00 percent interest, and Ms. Payne's payments will go into a revolving fund that will be used to build other homes. The monthly payments will be $450 to $500, including insurance and taxes, Ms. Pritchett said.
Habitat home-owners must put in 250 hours of sweat equity on their project, she said.
Alan Dieter, who teaches construction technology at the high school, said his students benefited in three ways from the Habitat projects: "They get out of the regular classroom and into the community, so they experience what it means to work in the community. They learn job and work skills they can use for the rest of their life whether they go into construction or not. And they have an opportunity to learn what it means to volunteer, to be active in the community. I think this is just as important as the hands-on skills they pick up."
The students provided most of the labor for the Oak Street home, but did not do wiring, plumbing, or heating, ventilation, and air conditioning installation. These parts of the project required professionals.
Still, the students did a lot, Mr. Dieter explained: "We started with building the floor, then the walls, then we put the roof on and then the siding. We put in the cabinets, the laminate floors, and hung all the doors."
Ms. Pritchett said financial contributors were another indispensable part of the project. They are: the La-Z-Boy Foundation, State Farm Insurance, Holcim Inc., United Way of Monroe County, the Education Plus Credit Union, and MSHDA (Michigan State Housing Development Authority) Community Development Program Fund.
Zachary Webber, a high school junior, said the project gave him a lot of satisfaction.
"I feel pretty good. I feel our class put together a pretty sound home for the family to move into. It's a lot of fun being out in the community doing something. I learned quite a bit. I learned how to shingle a roof and hang drywall," he said.
Tim DiCarlo, a senior, said he worked on the same sort of project last year, and had a leadership role this year.
"I showed the kids how to do certain jobs and how to do them right," he said. "I made sure they wore safety glasses, things like that. I'm really happy with the home."
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