Bike and build providing assistance
The Mendoza family will receive some extra assistance finishing the new Habitat for Humanity home from 32 student bicyclists participating in the Bike and Build program.
Bike and Build works with Habitat affiliates across the country to raise money and awareness for the programs while cycling to various workdays around the country.
The cyclists will stop in Lawrence for the fifth straight year and will spend July 6 and 7 working on the Medoza’s home as part of their 4,000-mile biking journey from Providence, R.I., to San Francisco.
Michelle Mailand, a committee member of the Lawrence Habitat ReStore, said Bike and Build makes a big impact here in Lawrence.
“They do a lot of work and they raise a lot of money,” Mailand said.
The group donated $10,000 during their visit last year.
In its sixth year, the Bike and Build program has raised more than $1.6 million for housing groups across the country.
Mailand said the public is invited to visit the home at 1612 E. 15th St. while the cyclists work. For more information about Bike and Build, visit their Web site at bikeandbuild.org/cms.
Saturday will mark an important milestone in the lives of the Mendoza family.
They soon will be the recipients of Lawrence Habitat for Humanity’s 71st home, which will be the result of lots of sweat equity on the part of the family.
At 10 a.m. Saturday the family will participate in a nail-driving ceremony at their soon-to-be home, 1612 E. 15th St. The community is invited to the ceremony — and to participate in raising the home’s exterior walls.
“It means a lot,” mother Tamara Mendoza said. “I really like Habitat because it’s like a family.”
Mendoza said she and her husband applied to receive a home from the organization because they knew they would never be able to afford a regular home loan. They didn’t qualify for any amount of welfare assistance, she said, so without the help of Habitat for Humanity, her family of six would not be able to leave public housing at Edgewood Homes, 1600 Haskell Ave.
And while the Mendozas and other Habitat families receive help, Habitat follows the motto “Give a hand up, not a hand out.”
Lori Harse, Habitat’s director of operations, said even though Habitat was able to provide affordable housing to families through donations and volunteer work, families who received homes from the organization must work hard. Adults who receive a home must provide “sweat equity” by volunteering 225 hours toward construction of their home, the homes of others and other Habitat for Humanity causes.
“It gives them a sort of ownership of their home,” Harse said. “I think it helps them understand how their home is working once they become a homeowner. They’re working with and meeting other families in the same situation and they gain a little bit of a bond that way.”
Harse said although Habitat is weathering the current economic storm, it is receiving fewer donations, which means it takes a little longer to get families into homes.
A typical home costs about $90,000. Once built, Habitat sells the home to families at the cost of materials by providing them a zero-interest loan. The mortgage is also adjusted so families are not required to pay more than 25 percent of their gross monthly income.
“We knew that we would not qualify for a regular home loan, let alone be able to afford a home loan,” Mendoza said. “We figured that Habitat was something that we would like to try. I tell everyone that I can about it. It's such a neat organization.”
The Mendoza family is still working to raise money for their home. Interested donors can contact the Lawrence Habitat for Humanity office at 832-0777.