Starke-Pulaski Habitat for Humanity officials would like to work with the City of Knox to get some properties back on the tax rolls. Executive Director Steve Morrison told the board of works last week the goal is to help families with young children have a decent place to live by providing them an interest-free mortgage on a decent home in exchange for “sweat equity.”
Local Habitat for Humanity Volunteers have built a total of five houses in North Judson, Winamac and Ripley. Morrision says they’ve never had a good contact or presence in Knox but are hoping to change that. He says building houses on now-vacant lots will help boost the local economy.
Morrison says the actual construction costs about $50,000, thanks to donated labor and building materials. He says the homeowner’s mortgage is based on the actual construction cost, but Habitat for Humanity safeguards its investment by having the property appraised. The homeowner pays a mortgage on the true cost of the house, but Habitat for Humanity holds a second mortgage on the difference between the appraised value and the true cost for the life of the loan. That prevents equity from building up so the owner can’t flip the house.
Program participants must meet Habitat International guidelines. After they are chosen, they are able to pick a floor plan that meets their needs. Morrison says Starke-Pulaski Habitat for Humanity is still raising seed money for their next project. He adds land for the construction is usually donated and notes such a donation is tax deductible. Knox Mayor Dennis Estok expressed a willingness to work with the nonprofit organization and requested more details in writing as to what they are proposing locally.
Visit the Starke-Pulaski Habitat for Humanity website at http://www.sphabitat.org/.