From going green to garage sales, this place looks to restore the area.
In his six years as executive director for Habitat for Humanity in the south suburbs, David Tracy has overseen the building and/or rehabbing of 18 homes in the southeast area.
In his time serving the people of Cook County he has built hundreds of relationships. These relationships have helped this non-profit agency assist many people in becoming homeowners, turning dead ends into dreams.
But the Chicago Heights area could use a little more help.
“We need lots of volunteers for the job sites,” Tracy said. “We now own 14 homes in the southeast suburbs. Habitat has purchased foreclosed properties and we’re working Tuesdays through Thursdays.”
For residents in need of community service hours, Habitat for Humanity is a perfect opportunity to earn those, all while making a difference for someone else.
Tracy, passionate about his work, sees owning a home as a dream accomplished for most people.
“The basic feature at Habitat is we offer home ownership to low income families,” Tracy said. “Their house payment will never exceed 30 percent of their gross monthly income. Most of the families that apply to own a home through Habitat for Humanity, are paying 50 to 60 percent of their income for rent, so we offer home ownership with zero interest mortgage.”
The longtime builder said the best thing about Habitat is the lack of hidden costs.
“The family pays whatever it costs to buy and rehab the home with no profit,” Tracy explained. “They go through a traditional closing. Habitat holds the mortgage, they pay Habitat for the principle. Most payments are $700.00 per month.”
Every Habitat home in the south suburbs comes with a Whirlpool appliance package, which includes a washer, dryer, stove, refrigerator, microwave and dishwasher, all brand new.
But that’s not all.
“We fix what needs fixing,” Tracy said. “If that means new wiring that’s what we do. We are putting two new roofs on this week, one house in Lansing, the other in Park Forest.”
In order to be so helpful Habitat receives a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development though Cook County.
“Cook County is a major partner,” Tracy said. “We also have funding from a Department of Energy Grant. Habitat is offering free weatherization for homeowners in Park Forest and Lansing. This is above and beyond our regular program.”
Habitat in the Heights
The Chicago Heights connection to Habitat for Humanity can be found in the form of ReStore, at 180 Joe Orr Road, which takes donations of good working appliances, kitchen and bathroom cabinets, used or new furniture, lamps, lumber, doors, art, windows and more.
The funds from ReStore helps build and rehab homes. It also has a service specifically geared toward screens.
“We just started doing screen repair,” said ReStore manager Bob Desco. “We repair screen doors, screen windows. We need about a 48 hour lead time, but we can do any window. No glass just screens.”
But that’s not all you can get at ReStore.
“We also sell new laminate flooring,” Desco added. “We have two colors. It’s about 35 cents lower than you can get anywhere else. It’s high quality with foam backing.”
Eliminating Electronic Waste
According to Tracy, ReStore will also be helping the area go green.
“We are introducing electronic recycling,” he explained. “Electronic recycling is important. Everything we do is with the thought of raising money to help fund our program and it also helps save the landfills. People are throwing away TV’s and computers, they don’t have any place to take them. Now they can bring them to ReStore free of charge.”
The new recycling project will benefit ReStore as well.
“(Electronics) will be recycled and create a revenue stream for Habitat to build more houses,” Tracy added. “Habitat is non-profit. Everything we earn goes back into our program. Our latest audit showed every 88 cents out of every dollar donated goes to further our program.”