STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
The dream of homeownership is closer to reality for Stephanie and Hailey Izell and their daughters, one of three families chosen by Highland Lakes Habitat for Humanity for its house program.
Organization officials announced work on the Izell home begins at 8 a.m. Saturday, September 14, at 115 Avenue M in Marble Falls.
Volunteers are needed to help build the 24th house for the local Habitat for Humanity, President Greg Mills said. The only requirement is a willingness to lend a hand; the organization has construction leaders on site who will instruct and oversee.
“We have a carpenter who’s a consultant overseeing the stuff to make sure it’s done right,” Mills said. “We don’t need experienced house builders. We need people willing to come and tote lumber. If you don’t know how to drive a nail, we can teach you.”
Mills said volunteer labor ensures the homeowners only pay for materials.
Habitat doesn’t give away homes. Families must apply and go through a selection process during which organization officials review written applications then conduct interviews. After that is completed, officials choose the families based on need.
Families must commit to 300 hours of “sweat equity,” which means they help another family build a home, then they must work on their own home.
Families also pay a 20-year, interest-free mortgage. At least six families have paid their entire mortgage early, Mills said.
“By using volunteer labor, we’re able to substantially reduce the price of the house,” Mills said. “They’re paying only for what it costs us to build the house.”
Lunch and water will be provided to volunteers. The work day ends between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. A second workday is being set up during the week, but Mills said that will be decided based on when the Izells are available. In the past, it’s been on Wednesdays.
“You can learn and you can fellowship with people and get time well spent together,” he said of the volunteer opportunity.
The Izells learned they had been chosen by Habitat for Humanity in August 2017, and while they will receive the daily gift of a dwelling, Mills said they’re not the only ones who benefit.
“That’s been a special feeling for me: from the time a family applies to building the house to seeing them paying it off,” he said. “The dream has been so long in coming for (the Izells). They’ve worked hard and been patient. They’re at the pinch-me stage.”
Contact Mills at email@example.com or 830-693-7879 for more information.