Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

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Habitat breaks ground for new home

by Chris Schultz

March 22, 2012

ELKHORN — For the first time in four years, Habitat for Humanity of Walworth County will be able to do something it does well.

Build a house for a family in need.

On Saturday, Habitat had a groundbreaking at a vacant lot at 206 E. Marshall St., Elkhorn, the location of the future Potter residence.

Lori Potter of Elkhorn said she applied for a new home through Habitat for Humanity four years ago.

"My mom suggested I get it started," Potter said. She said she filled out the paper work, never expecting to hear about it again.

"I didn't think I was going to get it," she said of the house.

Now she and her children, daughter Tawny, 12, and son Dakota, 13, are looking forward to their home, which will be completed sometime in June.

A new house will mean renewed freedom, Potter said.

She said she is on housing assistance, and a condition of assistance is that she can't have friends stay with her.

Potter said she likes to help her friends and in the past offered her home as a place for her friends to stay if they needed it.

Having her own home will allow her to do that again, she said.

Not only will the 1,056-square-foot ranch style home be the first one built by Walworth County's Habitat for Humanity in four years, it is also the first Habitat home built in Elkhorn.

The house will have the unusual feature of a basement, said Larry Green, Walworth County Habitat's interim director.

Most Habitat homes are built on a pad and have no basement.

But in this case, the new house is being built over the basement of the previous house.

The basement is already there, and building on it will cost less than trying to fill it, Green said.

Habitat bought the lot with grant money, he said.

Construction will start in the next one to two weeks, with completion by June 30, Green said.

Recipients of a Habitat home have to be in need of new housing.

Most applicants live in substandard housing, Green said.

They have to partner with Habitat, with 250 hours of sweat equity and put down a $500 construction deposit, which is returned once the family takes possession of the house, he said.

The new owners must also be able to afford an interest-less mortgage.

Richard Geasland of Elkhorn, a member of the Habitat board, said Habitat likes to build at least one new house every year.

But bad economic conditions caused the four-year gap between construction of the previous house and this one.

"Times are tough," Geasland said.

"This is a great accomplishment," he said of the new house.

Even with the owners' sweat equity and mostly volunteer construction work, a Habitat home still costs between $60,000 and $80,000 he said.

This will be Walworth County Habitat's 13th home.

The group started in 1998, and is the result of a merger between the Walworth County and Whitewater chapters.

Among those who were at the groundbreaking ceremony was Elkhorn Mayor Howie Reynolds, who welcomed the first Habitat for Humanity house to his city.

"This is a big deal for us," Reynolds said during groundbreaking ceremonies.

The Potter family and habitat board member Nancy Zikuda then broke ground in the formal ceremony.

The benediction was by the Rev. Stephen Capitelli of St. John in the Wilderness Episcopal Church, Elkhorn.