Two-hundred-50 Iowa bankers have volunteered to help build a “Habitat for Humanity” home on the state fairgrounds. Bruce Thompson of Libertyville Savings Bank in Fairfield is among those working on the home today (Monday). Thompson says he’s not a “finish carpenter” but has rehabbed four houses. “I’ve pounded a few nails,” Thompson says. Thompson says his bank is a supporter of the Habitat cause, which helps low income people build a new home. Thompson says in the past three years, his bank has donated two lots to Habitat for Humanity’s local Fairfield chapter and both lots now have houses. “It’s a very worthwhile cause and we’re very happy to be able to contribute something,” Thompson says. Mark Elliott, director of development for the Greater Des Moines Habitat for Humanity, says this is the first time Habitat has built a home on the state fairgrounds. “We felt that this was a wonderful venue to do two things: highlight the reality of poverty housing in Iowa and how the community could come together through the Habitat program and address that issue one house at a time,” Elliott says. The home is on skids, and will be moved after the fair’s over to a lot that’s about 10 blocks away from the fairgrounds. The home is a three-bedroom ranch for a couple and their child. “It’s a perfect way for them to begin to establish the equity that will help lift them out of that cycle-of-poverty-housing,” Elliott says. “It’s a simple and decent and most importantly affordable house for the family.” One of the requirements of the Habitat for Humanity program is that those who are to live in the home must help build it with their own “sweat equity.”Elliott says the couple got most of their required work in before the fair started, but they’ve both been at the fair, working above and beyond the requirements. “Glen, who is the husband and is going to be purchasing this house, is actually a framing carpenter himself,” Elliott says. “It’s been very difficult to get Glen off-site.” Elliott says up to 70 Habitat for Humanity houses will be built in Iowa this year. There will be four-thousand volunteers in the Des Moines-area alone working on the 10 homes being built in the Des Moines metro in 2005. According to Elliott, most of the volunteers have no prior building experience and learn on site. “Habitat houses are extraordinarily solid and well-built houses,” Elliott says. “We’re very, very proud of the houses we build.” He says when Hurricane Andrew ripped through a neighborhood in Florida where 10 Habitat houses were built, all 10 survived but none of the neighboring houses did.
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