Statehouse to become Habitat for Humanity construction zone

By Rachel Hoffmeyer
TheStatehouseFile.com

INDIANAPOLIS — This spring lawmakers will set aside legislation and instead pick up hammers to build a Habitat for Humanity house on the Statehouse lawn.

House Speaker Brian Bosma thanks Natalie Snyder for speaking about her experience with  Habitat for Humanity. Photo by Derreck Stahly, TheStatehousefile.com

House Speaker Brian Bosma thanks Natalie Snyder for speaking about her experience with Habitat for Humanity. Photo by Derreck Stahly, TheStatehousefile.com

“Homeownership is still truly the American dream,” Sen. Jean Breaux, D-Indianapolis, said, “but it still continues to elude far too many Hoosiers.”

In March legislators from both sides of the aisle, staff and other volunteers will build wall panels, which will then be transported to a home site for a low-income Indiana family. Lawmakers are also launching a new and used tool drive and hope to collect $30,000 to help build Habitat for Humanity homes.

The non-profit organization serves 75 of Indiana’s 92 counties and is among the top 10 home builders in the state. Families involved in Habitat for Humanity take homeowner and financial classes before buying their homes with zero interest loans. Most Habitat families have a mortgage payment that includes taxes and insurance for less than $500 a month.

“We believe hard-working, low-income families need capital investment, not charity,” said Gina Leckron, state director for Habitat for Humanity.

That investment made it possible for Natalie Snyder to move into her Muncie home several years ago. Snyder and her daughter had moved into her parents’ home to get away from a difficult situation, but she wanted to provide her daughter more stability.

With the help of the Habitat programs, Snyder now owns her home where her daughter has her own bedroom.

Sen. Jean Breaux, D-Indianapolis, talks about Habitat for Humanity’s effect in Indiana. Photo by Derreck Stahly, TheStatehouseFile.com

Sen. Jean Breaux, D-Indianapolis, talks about Habitat for Humanity’s effect in Indiana. Photo by Derreck Stahly, TheStatehouseFile.com

“It has given me the financial stability to get off of the programs, to be able to not have food stamps, to be able to afford my own insurance,” she said.

Snyder’s story is part of a larger trend within families who purchase a Habitat for Humanity home. Wilder Research studied hundreds of Habitat families in Minnesota last year and found before owning the home, 66 percent of the families used food stamps. After moving in, that dropped to 30 percent using food stamps.

“At Habitat, it is much more than housing,” Leckron said. “It enhances a family’s quality of life and it is an economic engine in the state of Indiana.”

Rachel Hoffmeyer is the executive editor of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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