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Churches pitch in to help Hernando's Habitat shelter families
A Lutheran Church grant means another new home will be built.
By Beth N. Gray, Times Correspondent
Published March 6, 2008
SPRING HILL -- Habitat for Humanity International has built on grass roots Christian faith from its inception. Now, that base is helping Habitat for Humanity of Hernando County raise several homes for needy residents.
Thrivent Financial, the nonprofit financial arm of the Lutheran Church of America, has awarded its first grant to Hernando Habitat. The $110,000 grant, along with local Lutheran churches' cash contributions and hands-on aid, will enable the county chapter to raise four homes instead of three this year.
Hernando Habitat's immediate past president, Bob Jillings, said recently that the chapter had applied before for the competitive grant, but lost out two years ago. This time, with the grant in hand, local excitement is running high.
The Thrivent program includes participation by local Lutheran churches, which have pledged an additional 25 percent, or $27,500, to the effort. And parishioners will work along with Habitat volunteers in constructing the home in Tangerine Estates, off California Street west of Brooksville.
Taking part are these Lutheran churches: First, Ridge Manor; Christ, Brooksville; Forest Oaks and Holy Cross, Spring Hill; Holy Trinity, Masaryktown; and Nativity, Weeki Wachee.
Habitat must fund 10 percent, $11,000, to the home-building. That shouldn't be a problem, Jillings said, because in-kind contributions count. Habitat also is supplying a $9,000 lot.
Habitat homes aren't free. Their owners pay the actual cost of the abode, but pay no profit to Habitat and no interest on the loan. And the home recipients put in sweat equity on the building, as much as 500 hours.
Thrivent Financial plans to fund construction of 10 homes in Florida this year, 322 homes overall in 42 states.
The latest house will be a 1,150-square-foot, three-bedroom, 1-1/2 or 2-bath home, the last depending on the choice of the family already qualified for purchase, a single mother with two children, said project coordinator Bill Yoos, a member of Trinity Lutheran Church.
While the grant is a first for Hernando Habitat, so is the method of home construction, an insulated concrete foam, or ICF, home. It is 2-1/2 inches of Styrofoam insulation on each side of 6-inch concrete, formed into ready-made walls, explained Yoos.
"It's like building a house out of Lego blocks," he said. "The insulation factor is fantastic." It carries an R factor of 30 compared with a conventional concrete home's R factor of 11, he said.
"What we try to do is make it as easy as possible for the homeowner. It is energy efficient," he said.
Added Jillings, "It lowers insurance from wood walls. Utilities will go down quite a lot."
That carries a price tag too. The home construction is estimated at $77,000 to $78,000, several thousand more than the standard Habitat home, but worth it, officials say. "Everything we can do to lower cost to the owner is what we want to do," Jillings said.
Another plus: "It can go up in an eight-hour day," Jillings said. "Our guys really like the ICF. You don't need a mason to put them up. Our volunteers can do it. Pinellas has done two or three houses like this and our guys went down to see it and they thought it was a really great idea."
Habitat has another ICF home under construction in Tangerine Estates. While raising the walls might take only a day, there's roofing and siding to add, interior painting, flooring, installation of appliances, which can consume three to four months.
Beth Gray can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By the numbers
$110,000: Amount of a grant awarded to Habitat for Humanity of Hernando by Thrivent Financial, the nonprofit financial arm of the Lutheran Church of America, in its first-ever grant.
10: Number of homes where Thrivent will provide the financing that will be built in Florida.
42: The number of states where Thrivent operates the program.
322: The number of homes nationwide that will be funded by the Thrivent Financial program.
$78,000: Estimated construction cost for a Habitat for Humanity house.