The Daily Illini

Local store easy on wallet, even lighter on the heart

Barb Lutz shops at Habitat for Humanity´s resale store, Homeworks on Friday. Lutz says Homeworks is a great place to buy things needed to remodel her house. Jonathan Witten

Barb Lutz shops at Habitat for Humanity´s resale store, Homeworks on Friday. Lutz says Homeworks is a great place to buy things needed to remodel her house. Jonathan Witten

By Czarina Gregorio

Who doesn’t enjoy a good sale or helping a good cause? Homeworks, the Habitat for Humanity re-sale store, allows you to do both.

Homeworks, at 40 E. University Ave. in downtown Champaign, holds 9,000 square feet of donated household items such as building materials, appliances, furniture and d‚cor that are sold at low-budget prices. All proceeds benefit the Habitat for Humanity projects in the Champaign and Piatt counties. The local affiliate was formed in 1991 and has helped many families break the cycle of poverty, building 34 homes since then. Habitat for Humanity builds homes and sells them at zero profit to the homeowners. The group then manages their mortgages for 20 years. This year, there are 300 applicants for the program and Habitat for Humanity plans to build five houses.

Homeworks opened in May 2003. It is part of a national chain of Habitat for Humanity re-sale stores across the country. In two months, $6,500 was raised.

Angela Miller, Homeworks manager, said the store operates like a Salvation Army store.

“We use the money the store generates to help meet the $60,000 cost of building a home,” Miller said. “$6,500 isn’t enough, but it is a great start.”

Laura Huth, executive director, said Homeworks has three main goals.

“Since the opening of the store, we are able to sell usable items at bargain prices, keep a lot of stuff out of the landfill and raise money to build homes for people in need,” Huth said.

Paul Neumann was perusing the store for items he could use in re-doing an 1870s farmhouse. He said the store was a great idea.

“There are things here that people can still use,” he said. “Things that someone might have thrown away.”

The store employs a staff of two full-time and three part-time workers. The rest of the staff are volunteers who help paint furniture, assist customers and arrange items in the store. Some volunteers like Sandra Holloway are also applicants for the program in need of a home.

“I never volunteered before because I thought it was a waste of time,” Holloway said. “But being here showed me there is a lot I can do to help, and even if I never get picked (for the program), I will still stay to volunteer.”

Holloway lives in an apartment with her two younger daughters. She said she would rather pay a mortgage for her own home than pay a landlord.

“I would be paying for something that was all mine,” she said. “Habitat for Humanity gives a helping hand because they don’t care whether your credit is good or bad. They will consult with you before they foreclose on a home and will usually help you through it.”

Huth said the community has been appreciative of the store because it offers good items at a low cost and gives them the opportunity to help out.

“It’s a win, win, win situation,” Huth said.

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