Albert Lea family to get Habitat home

Published 10:15 am Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A family in Albert Lea will soon have a house to call home.

Glenda Erickson, with daughters Summer Beithtol, 10 and Sage Iverson, 3, applied for a Freeborn-Mower Habitat for Humanity home in 2008, and it will be built by this fall.

Erickson, her boyfriend Travis Lawson and her daughters have lived in a trailer in Twin Lakes since last July. They used to live in Albert Lea, but it became too expensive. Erickson works at Ole’s Shell Station on East Main Street in Albert Lea.

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“I didn’t think I’d be qualified,” Erickson said.

To be qualified she had to have been turned down by a bank for a home loan. She had to fill out a lot of paperwork but was finally selected to be the owner of the home. She will have to make payments with no interest to Habitat. Erickson said she found out they would be the next family to get a home while she was putting her kids to bed.

“We were all screaming,” Erickson said. “It was awesome.”

Erickson’s daughter, Summer, is a fourth-grader at Halverson Elementary School. She will transfer to Sibley Elementary School next year because she will live near it. Summer is excited that she will get her own room. She wants to paint it pink and other colors and have the word “dance” painted on the wall. She also wants to make a garden at her new home.

Erickson has to work 250 hours on the house or in the community to fulfill what Habitat calls sweat-equity hours. She has already done about 100 since she found out last July. She has helped sell raffle tickets for Habitat and volunteered at the Salvation Army in Albert Lea.

“I’m excited to start working on it,” Erickson.

She said next Saturday she will be going to Austin to start building the walls of the house. She made Summer a map of the area near the house to see how easy it will be for her to walk to school and what parks are near the new house.

Ron Burkhow is on the family support committee for Habitat. The committee helps the family with anything they need throughout the building process and after they move into their new home. He said the family needs three things to be selected. They have to be in need of a home, have to have a job and work a set number of hours on the home or in the community. Single people work 250 hours and couples work 450 hours either helping to build the home or volunteering in the community. They must have a job to make payments after the house is built, Burkhow said it’s a common misconception that the homes are free.

“The payments aren’t really high, but they still have to make them,” Burkhow said.

Burkhow said it’s hard to tell how long it will take to make the house because volunteer labor isn’t always consistent. The committee plans to have the family in the home by Thanksgiving but hope to have them in before school starts.

The lots are donated to Habitat by Albert Lea, and Burkhow gave the example of three lots on Pearl Street that were donated by the city. The builders are starting work as soon as the weather permits. They will first do the sewer and water hookups and start work on the foundation. The house will be on the corner of Spark Avenue and Alcove Street in Albert Lea.

Wayne Hanson is on the building committee for the Freeborn-Mower Habitat for Humanity. He said the house about to be built will be the 11th one in Freeborn County, and 29 have already been built in Freeborn and Mower. He said it takes about 2,000 volunteer hours to finish a house.

“Contractors do it in less than half of that but unskilled labor takes a bit longer,” Hanson said.

He likes being a part of an organization that helps deserving people get their own home, and they welcome all volunteers who want to help. He said they pay Habitat for the home with no interest.

“We’re a Christian organization, but we do build houses for all God’s children in need,” Hanson said.

Whirlpool will donate a new stove and refrigerator for the home. It will be a one-story home with three bedrooms and one bath. Erickson was honored to have the chance to work for her own home.

“The chance to get to build my own home is the best thing ever to happen to besides the birth of my children,” Erickson said.