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Habitat for Humanity looking for land to build in Wadena

Gap funding sought for upcoming house build

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The Guevara family includes parents Pedro and Kim and daughters Angel Lea and Kaylyn.
Contributed photo
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WADENA — Habitat for Humanity is poised to return to Wadena County and is actively seeking land to build a house.

Lakes Area Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Kevin Pelkey informed the commission during its meeting on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, that the organization exited Wadena County in 2012 or 2013. He said, after exploring the need for affordable mortgages, the Lakes Area branch based in Brainerd, is now serving Wadena County.

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Lakes Area Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Kevin Pelkey speaks to the Wadena County Commissioners during the meeting on Tuesday, June 21, 2022.<br/>
Screen capture / Wadena County Commissioners meeting

“We are excited to share our next project is in (the city of) Wadena,” Pelkey said. “The home will begin being built as soon as we (Habitat) find a site.”

The house blueprints were shared with the commissioners, and it was noted the plans are for one-level living. Pelkey said the family chosen for Wadena needs one-level living as the mother has multiple sclerosis (MS), which affects the brain, spinal cord and creates mobility problems.

Lakes Area Habitat For Humanity has taken on Wadena County to add to its list of other counties they serve and is soon to finish a home in Sebeka.

Health reasons aside, Pelkey said most homes that his Habitat for Humanity chapter builds are slab-on-grade, with in-floor heat. He noted that provisions for bad weather are met through additional wall support in the bathroom or utility room.

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Pelkey asked the board of commissioners if they would consider funding a portion of the project, potentially with American Rescue Plan Act (also known as COVID-19 funds) the counties received.

He was told that Habitat for Humanity would need to apply for ARPA funds from the county.

Commissioner Sheldon Monson asked what is the estimated cost of the house project planned for Wadena.

With current construction material costs, the house estimate is about $130,000, as it is built with volunteer labor, Pelkey said. He added the appraised value may be closer to $165,000, but Habitat for Humanity will underwrite a chunk of the home’s cost to provide the family with a loan that is manageable.

He noted if a homeowner sells the Habitat for Humanity house, the organization has a right to purchase it back and balances of all mortgages would need to be paid.

“The longer they are in the home, the harder it is for Habitat for Humanity to re-buy,” Pelkey said.

Sebeka house recently completed by Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity recently completed a 1,000-square-foot, three-bedroom home with a detached garage in Sebeka. The previously vacant property is now filled with a family that pays property taxes, Pelkey said.

A family applies to Habitat for Humanity and, if chosen, receives a no-interest loan on a 30-year mortgage. The payment is also based on the family’s income.

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“In our case, it is 25 percent of their income,” Pelkey said. “We like to pay for the house, and then build it. We do have money allocated (for this project), but there is a gap.”

Commissioner Murlyn Kreklau asked if the city of Sebeka contributed to the recent house build project. Pelkey explained Sebeka provided a “significant contribution.”

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