Habitat For Humanity Aims To Make Homeownership Dream A Reality

The St. Charles County Habitat for Humanity will relocate their headquarters, along with their Habitat ReStore home improvement store, to a larger facility in O'Fallon, which will help diversify the organization's income stream.

The St. Charles County Habitat for Humanity will soon have a new location for their Habitat ReStore shop. The home improvement store, which has been open since 2008 in St. Peters, will relocate to O’Fallon next year. The majority of the money made in the store goes to helping the organization to build more homes.

“It’s a tremendous way that we can be self-sufficient as a non-profit, since we’re telling our homeowners to be self-sufficient as well,” said Ashlee Johnson, St. Charles County Habitat for Humanity Executive Director.

Johnson went on to say that the store helps provide diverse income streams for the non-profit organization, while also benefitting others in the community.

The new space will provide better visibility, since it is right off of Interstate 70, and also give the organization more room to operate, and allow for growth. The new facility has about 21,000 square feet, and the company will gain about 6,000 square feet in the move. The business plans to make the move to their new site in March of 2012 and will also move their headquarters from St. Peters to the new O’Fallon facility.

The move, and hopefully increased income as a result, can’t come at a better time, since the organization hopes to build even more homes in the next few years. Johnson said the board came to this decision after they heard the results of a one day study that revealed there were over 1,000 people homeless in St. Charles, Lincoln and Warren counties.

Johnson said the majority of the homeless found in the study were working families that had been through some sort of unforeseen circumstance that triggered their homelessness. The organization has gone from building two homes a year back in 2006, to their current status of building eight homes a year, but there is still a desire to do more.

“As a board we decided we wanted to make a bigger impact in affordable housing,” Johnson said.

Johnson said the St. Charles County Habitat for Humanity has a strategic plan in place to build 15 homes a year by 2015. Since the organization doesn’t get any money from the federal government other than their HUD grant, having the bigger space in their new ReStore will help make this goal possible. The grant has recently helped the non-profit hire a family services coordinator to equip the selected families with homeownership preparation.

Johnson said once a family is selected for a Habitat house, the entire process takes about 18 months, during which time the family takes a variety of courses. The goal of the classes is to fully equip the families for anything they may encounter as a homeowner.

“We don’t just train them on the basics, we train them on budget, finance, health and wellness, and each family has to put in 350 sweat equity hours on their home,” said Johnson of the process.

Johnson said jobsite volunteers are always welcome and needed, and work is done on the jobsite Monday, Wednesday and Friday of each week.

For more information about St. Charles County Habitat for Humanity or to volunteer, call 636-978-5712 or visit their website.


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