Habitat welcomes new homeowners

One of two new homes constructed by Habitat for Humanity and Champaign stand in Carver Park, Champaign, on Wednesday. Rasheen Robinson and her son moved into the house earlier this year after its completion. Erica Magda

One of two new homes constructed by Habitat for Humanity and Champaign stand in Carver Park, Champaign, on Wednesday. Rasheen Robinson and her son moved into the house earlier this year after its completion. Erica Magda

By Emily Bardales

After raising her son as a single mother for many years in Champaign’s Shadow Wood Mobile Home Park, Rasheen Robinson and her son now can enjoy the house built for them by Habitat for Humanity.

“The house is energy efficient, with insulated walls so I don’t have to run the heat on 80 anymore. This has truly been a blessing,” Robinson said.

Robinson would not be living in her home now if it wasn’t for the work of Habitat for Humanity founder Millard Fuller, who died Tuesday at the age of 74, according to the organization’s Web site.

Fuller’s work and inspiration continues even in Champaign.

“I wouldn’t change anything, without Habitat people I would have had a hard time getting to where I am,” said Robinson, who owns one of the two houses recently completed in Carver Park.

The house was built in tandem with Habitat for Humanity and the city of Champaign. After the Francis Nelson Health Center relocated to a new location, 819 Bloomington Road, they donated the land. Habitat then needed money for the demolition of the old property on the land, which Champaign funded.

“Through federal funds, we are able to contribute $14,999 per lot with a five-year affordability period with that amount,” said Greg Skaggs, rehabilitation technician for the city of Champaign.

“So as long as the new owners keep the house for five years, the expenses are forgiven.”

Champaign City Council member at-large Karen Foster volunteered her labor on one of the houses for a day after receiving an invitation by e-mail from Neighborhood Services.

“There were 11 city staff members that were giving their time and I thought it would be fun to actually work on the house,” Foster said.

The city staff is now working on creating a quarterly “volunteer day” for the staff to participate.

This was Skaggs’ first time helping with Habitat.

“It was nice. I was glad it was indoors,” Skaggs said.

“We did painting preparation, masking, caulking and some painting of closet doors.”

With the help of volunteers, homeowners also invest their own physical labor into the construction process, as well as a down payment and monthly mortgage payments.

ReStore, 119 E. University Ave., an affiliate business to Habitat, helps with supplying appliances for the Habitat homes and also sells new and gently-used furniture, household goods, electronics, appliances and building materials at discounted prices.

The two homes had their closings on Jan. 29.

At the dedication service on Jan. 18, Foster spoke of how connected she felt to the house, especially after learning that the mother to live in the house was involved with early child care, much like herself.

“Afterwards when I was congratulating her she said, ‘Well, you taught me at Parkland!’ What an interesting small world,” Foster said.