by Mary Rupert
Heartland Habitat for Humanity recently moved into new quarters at an office building on 18th Street north of I-70 in Kansas City, Kan.
The first day in the new office building, at 155 S. 18th St., Suite 120, was Aug. 21, said Tom Lally, executive director. The building contains professional offices. It also contains the local parole office.
The nonprofit Habitat organization, which increases the number of affordable homes for families and creates opportunities for low-income families to own their own homes, had to move from its location at the levee in the Fairfax area, as the buildings there were being torn down to make way for a redevelopment project.
“We’re a Wyandotte County organization, we do a lot of builds here. We cover and serve most of the metropolitan area. We felt it was important to maintain a Wyandotte County headquarters, so we looked diligently at all locations,” Lally said. “All had their pluses and minuses. Because of highway access, we decided on this location.”
He added that Habitat worked with the Unified Government and the levee project developer, NorthPoint.
He said that better technology at the new office will allow Habitat to hold more community meetings and training meetings.
“It’s a lot better, centrally located, and more accessible for our homeowners, and for the general public, to come in and take our common sense homeownership trainings,” he said.
Lally said there are three new home projects currently in Kansas City, Kan. Two homes in Armourdale will be finished in the next 30 days, he said. The dig for another project, on Mill Street, was just yesterday.
He said Heartland Habitat is in a conversation with the UG and a couple of private and nonprofit organizations to engage a specific Kansas City, Kan., neighborhood, bringing stakeholders and resources together there in 2015.
Besides new homes, Habitat is very active in helping to renovate old homes through “A Brush with Kindness” program and Veterans Housing Initiative, he said.
Recently, Heartland Habitat helped a World War II veteran who lives near the downtown area of Kansas City, Kan., he said.
Habitat’s vice president of construction went to look at the house, found it was overgrown with vegetation, trees, shrubs and poison ivy, he said. There were holes in the roof requiring an entire roof replacement.
A group of high school and college students who worked this summer with Heartland Habitat spent two weeks clearing brush, filling two dumpsters, he said. Then the UG came in and helped with the roof replacement.
Next, some minor repairs are planned; there were some mobility issues for the veteran.
“The gentleman was not looking for a handout; he was willing to help out,” Lally said. “We’re doing the right things for the right reason.”
Other new recent developments with Heartland Habitat include a new Habitat reStore opened in the Northland on the Missouri side of the metropolitan area. Now there are three Heartland Habitat reStores, including one in Kansas City, Kan., he said.
This year Heartland Habitat plans about eight home construction projects in Kansas City, Kan. Also, there are probably more than 40 “A Brush with Kindness” home repair projects planned here, he added.
In addition there are two more home construction projects planned for Olathe, Kan., and Liberty, Mo., as well as “A Brush with Kindness” projects.
“There’s need everywhere, as we’re finding out,” Lally said.
He added that Heartland Habitat is getting short on funds for Wyandotte County “A Brush with Kindness” projects. For the first time, there is a backlog of eligible projects, with some on hold until they get eligible funding, he said. The minor home repair projects have an average cost of about $1,500 each.
“We need funding and we need the volunteers to come out,” Lally said.
Corporations and businesses have been helpful, and funding has come in from a few plants in Kansas City, Kan., he added.
Office hours at the new Heartland Habitat location are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, call 913-342-3047.