Family to move into 100th Lawrence Habitat for Humanity home early next year

photo by: Contributed photo

The Hale family — Autumn, Bouk, Ruby, Abby, Bo and Jessie — stand in one of the walls of their future home. The family lifted the home's first wall as a ceremonial beginning of its construction on Oct. 27, 2018.

When Autumn Hale recently went through a divorce, she and her five children “pretty much lost everything,” she said.

But she and her kids were given an opportunity to get back on their feet, and back in a permanent home, after they were selected as the 100th Habitat for Humanity family to receive a newly built home.

“It was a dream come true when we found out,” she said.

After the divorce, Hale said the family was finding housing through the Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority.

Because her two oldest children — 21-year-old Abby and 19-year-old Jessie — have reached an age where they could move out, the family could have been moved to a different home through the housing authority program, she said. The organization suggested she apply for a home through Habitat for Humanity to find a permanent solution.

“I knew our situation would change and we might have to switch locations, which would mean the kids would have to switch schools,” she said. “That would interrupt their life, basically, and there wouldn’t be any stability.”

photo by: Contributed photo

“To a new start” was written on one of the planks of wood used to build a wall for the Hales’ new home. Autumn Hale said the Lawrence Habitat for Humanity home will help her family get back on their feet.

Although she has spent most of her life in Lawrence, Hale said she did not know Habitat for Humanity operated in this area.

“I applied, not expecting to be picked, but knowing I could just get familiar with the program,” she said. “I was very surprised when we got the call that they wanted to do an interview with us. It was amazing.”

Hale, who works as an administrative assistant for Lawrence Public Schools, and her five children were selected for the home in the spring of 2017. The construction of the Hale home begin Oct. 26 and will continue for 14 to 16 weeks.

Hale and her two oldest daughters, who are old enough to volunteer, are spending hundreds of hours with volunteers to build the home. The younger children are helping by picking up trash on the site to participate, as well. As part of a kickoff event for the construction of the home, all six of the Hales lifted and placed its first wall.

“I feel blessed and lucky to be part of the program, and to be the 100th house is amazing,” Hale said, thanking the organization’s volunteers. “It’s truly phenomenal how many people show up to support these families and the community.”

photo by: Dylan Lysen

The construction of the Hales’ North Lawrence home began construction Oct. 26, 2018, and it will take about 14 to 16 weeks to complete.

Habitat for Humanity began operation in Lawrence in 1989. Erika Zimmerman, executive director, said the 100th home will be finished next year, which is fitting because it will be the organization’s 30th anniversary.

She said the 100 homes in 30 years show how much those in the Lawrence community and, specifically, the volunteers in the program care about helping those in need.

“It speaks to what a group of people who care deeply about their community and their neighbors what they can accomplish,” Zimmerman said. “A lot of this wouldn’t get done without the numerous amount of volunteers who show up every week and every time we build a house. It shows that people really care about their neighborhood and want to make a difference in their community.”

Each Habitat for Humanity home is sold to a selected homeowner with a zero-interest loan. The program aims to allow the family in need more flexibility to pay off the mortgage. Once they take over the home, the homeowners make mortgage payments each month that do not exceed 30 percent of their monthly income.

Zimmerman said the Hale family — which also includes Bouk, 9; Bo, 12; and Ruby, 14 — was a great choice for the program, and she’s happy to see them receive the 100th home.

photo by: Dylan Lysen

A sign in front of the the Hales’ soon-to-be home shows it is the 100th house from Lawrence Habitat for Humanity.

The Hales’ home, which is under construction in North Lawrence near the 99th Habitat for Humanity home, will have room for all six members of the family. Hale said she’s excited about the home and the neighborhood.

With Hale and her two older children participating in the build of their home, she said they are lucky to have the knowledge of how it’s built, which could help her maintain it in the future. The home will also have a fairly large backyard where Hale plans to place a garden.

“This is something I can pass on to my children and my grandchildren,” she said of the home. “My hope is generations of my family will live there and we can be part of the community for a long, long time.”

As part of the agreement, Hale has helped build homes of the families selected before her and her own home. When her home is finished, she will no longer be required to help build, but that won’t be the end of her home building, she said.

She plans to continue helping to build more homes through the organizations for other families in the future.

“We’ll be involved with this program forever,” she said.


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