Archive for Thursday, May 9, 2002

Single mom and children to own next Habitat house

May 9, 2002


For several months, Onechanh Rattanavongsy and her three small children have been living in a single room in her sister's mobile home in Lawrence.

Living in cramped quarters is nothing new for Rattanavongsy. She grew up in a poor family in Laos, the eighth of 10 children.

"We never were able to have our own room," she said.

But that will change in August.

The family will be moving into a new house built by volunteers for Women Build, a project of Habitat for Humanity International/Lawrence Habitat for Humanity.

By the time school starts, Rattanavongsy's children  Austin, 5, Timothy, 2, and Destiny, 1  will be able to stretch out in their own bedrooms and have plenty of backyard space to play hide-and-go-seek with their friends.

"Getting the house means winning the lottery to me," the young mother said.

A nail driving ceremony to start construction on the house will be at 9 a.m. Saturday at 1809 Atherton Court, the site of the new home. Among those kicking off the project are Deanell Tacha, chief judge of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; state legislators Barbara Ballard and Sandy Praeger; Kansas University women's basketball assistant Lynette Woodard; 100 Good Women; and representatives of Douglas County Bank, Commerce Bank, Treanor Architects and women employed by the City of Lawrence.

"The home is built from the ground up," said Linda Klinker, program manager at Lawrence Habitat for Humanity.

Klinker said Rattanavongsy's home is the seventh house to be built by the organization on Atherton Court, east of 17th and Harper streets. Habitat for Humanity bought 14 lots in the Atherton Court area.

Habitat retains ownership of the land where the houses are built and holds the mortgage on the structure. The homeowners sign up for no-interest, 20-year loans and make monthly payments to Habitat until the loan is paid off.

"Their home payments are used to build more Habitat houses," Klinker said.

Families are selected for Habitat for Humanity homes based on inadequate housing, ability to pay, readiness to partner with Habitat to build another house and residency or work in Douglas or Jefferson counties.

Rattanavongsy moved to the United States in 1980 and lived in Washington and California before relocating to Lawrence in 1997. She has worked at Sauer Danfoss for three years, but realizes that without Habitat's help she would never be able to own a home.

"It's going to be my very first house and I'm very excited," she said. "Â I was not able to do this by myself."

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