HELENA – After more than a year of hard work, six families are living in their new homes thanks to the Helena Area Habitat for Humanity and the United States Department of Agriculture.
The families worked together to build six homes over the past 14 months through Habitat for Humanity’s Mutual Self-Help program.
Under the guidance of Habitat for Humanity’s construction staff, participants build their homes with the assistance of their relatives, friends, and other Mutual Self-Help families.
Executive Director Jacob Kuntz said the process has been a labor of love, adding he’s personally humbled by the families themselves.
“With the families, they’ve sacrificed massively. They all have full-time jobs, they all have children. They are coming out here and working the equivalent of a part-time job. They put in 1,300 hours over the course of the last year to make their dream of homeownership a reality,” said Kuntz.
While some of the homes were finished months ago, the deal was that none of the new homeowners could move in until every house was complete.
New homeowner Misty Johnson told MTN she never thought she’d qualify for the program, but is so thankful she reached out to Habitat for Humanity.
“I had a job and could afford my rent, although it was a really terrible apartment,” said Johnson.
The build process was a bit intense, said the mother of three.
Cold weather burdened the building process and Johnson said if you had a bad day, you still had to come build a house.
“Life keeps going even when you’re building a house,” said Johnson. “You still have to show up for your neighbors and your kids who are counting on this house.”
Now out of her apartment, Johnson said it is a bit surreal to be in her own home.
“There’s those days where you stop and you look around and you think, ‘Holy moly, I built this. I remember framing that wall. I remember doing that insulation,’” said Johnson. “I never dreamed I would own a home and I never thought I’d be able to build one.”
Johnson added she is thankful to her new neighbors, Habitat for Humanity and the volunteers who made her dream possible.
Volunteers played a large role with nearly 700 volunteers contributing a combined 6,300 hours of work to build the new homes in Mountain View Meadows.
“That’s a massive number of Helenans who have come out and contributed time off and days off to make their neighbors welcome and to make their neighbors dreams possible,” said Kuntz.
The six new homes are just the first phase of a $389,000 grant from the USDA with six additional homes currently being built for new families.
“We know that when rural America prospers, all America prospers,” said Charles Robison, Montana State Director with the USDA Rural Development. “This was an opportunity to invest and help these families own their rural homes.”
The money from the grant helped pay for the technical expertise to build the houses.
“USDA is a little known partner is the housing business, but across Montana we have over 5,200 homes loans over the last 5 years,” said Robison. “For me, today was about welcoming new neighbors into the community that I call home.“
More information about the work being done by the Helena Area Habitat for Humanity can be found here.
-Reported by John Riley/MTN News