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Second Faith Build home under construction in Green Bay

By Kevin Boneske
Staff Writer

GREEN BAY – For the second year in a row, Greater Green Bay Habitat for Humanity is constructing a Faith Build home.

Jennifer Maier, volunteer director for Greater Green Bay Habitat for Humanity, said what differentiates a Faith Build home from others the organization constructs is the partnerships with Thrivent Financial and faith-based organizations.

“Thrivent has done a match challenge with faith-based organizations, so (the company will) match up to $65,000 from money donated to us from faith-based organizations,” Maier said. “That basically covers the upfront costs of building a Habitat home in Green Bay.”

Maier said the Greater Green Bay Habitat’s Faith Build program is one of only two Habitat for Humanity organizations in the state in partnership with Thrivent.

“It’s something that we had to go apply for,” she said.

Michelle Heeler, family services director of Greater Green Bay Habitat for Humanity, said construction on this year’s Faith Build home at 1146 S. Greenwood Ave. on Green Bay’s west side began in July with completion planned for November.

The house will be the future home of the family of Karleen Hernandez, a single mother with three children, a daughter Nayleen, who will be 7 in September, and 5-year-old twins Angel and Minelys.

Heeler said the home’s dimensions have the family’s needs in mind.

The family is looking for more space for the children with 1,458 square feet of finished space in the one-story house.

It will have four bedrooms and two bathrooms, along with a detached one-vehicle garage, and is being built on a lot Habitat purchased from a private owner.

Volunteer workers from Our Saviour Lutheran Church pose for a picture last month while on the building site of Green Bay Habitat for Humanity’s Faith Build home under construction at 1146 S. Greenwood Ave.

Hernandez, who is going to school part-time for accounting at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College and also works full-time, now rents a place to live and applied for a Habitat home last year.

She was approved for the program, based on her needs and ability to repay the mortgage, Heeler said.

Hernandez was one of more than 150 people to attend a Greater Green Bay Habitat informational session last year and one of approximately 50 people who applied for a home.

With 10 families approved for homes, Hernandez finished 50 hours volunteering at Habitat’s ReStore to secure her spot on a waiting list and get the first pick of lots available for homes.

As part of having a Habitat for Humanity home built, Heeler said a total of 250 “sweat equity” hours have to be contributed with the owner doing a minimum of 175 hours, with at least 100 hours on the building site, and the remaining 75 hours or 30 percent able to be done by friends and family.

“(Hernandez is) going to come out to the build site in a couple of weeks with a crew of people,” Heeler said.

In addition to helping at the ReStore, Hernandez is also able to earn hours helping out as a translator at a Habitat application meeting.

She said she moved to the United States from Puerto Rico about 10 years ago and lived in Florida before moving to Green Bay in 2012 to be closer to family, which includes her mother and three sisters.

Last month, Hernandez and her children, along with Habitat staff, walked through the neighborhood to meet with people the family will be living near.

“They’re so social,” Hernandez said of her children meeting the neighbors.

To complete a home, Heeler said volunteers are on a building site three days a week.

“We’re a Christian organization already, so essentially all of our builds are faith-based,” Heeler said. “But Jennifer will go and present at different churches, to bring awareness about Faith Build to let them know about the different opportunities and ways they can volunteer and possibly donate.”

Though a group of volunteers with varying amounts of building experience will be on site constructing the homes, Heeler said a construction manager paid by Habitat will be on hand while the work takes place, and the houses are required to pass inspection.

“We follow the building codes just like any other construction,” she said.

For the Faith Build home, volunteers from churches have been helping with the construction.

Heeler said the mission of Habitat for Humanity is building homes, community and hope.

“We’re bringing the community together to build this home,” she said.

In addition to the volunteer hours, Heeler said a homeowner of a Habitat house is required to pay a mortgage that equals 23 percent of the homeowner’s annual income, which must fall between 30-80 percent of Brown County’s median income to qualify with having enough income to pay a mortgage, but not too much income to be able to obtain conventional lending.

“Most of our homeowners pay fair-market value for homes,” she said. “It’s just the length of their mortgage can vary. If they have higher income, they pay more. If they have lower income, they pay less.”

The project to build the house for the Hernandez family is Greater Green Bay Habitat’s 117th home.

Supporters of the 2019 Green Bay Faith Build include: Atonement Lutheran Church, Calvary Lutheran, Catholic Foundation of the Diocese of Green Bay, Good Shepherd Youth Group, First Congregational United Church of Christ, Knights of Columbus 7498, Life Bridge Christian Church, Our Redeemer’s Lutheran Church WELCA, Our Saviour Lutheran Church, Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross, Ss. Edward and Isidore, St. Norbert Abbey Augustine Stewardship Fund Trust and Union Congregational UCC.

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