Two families are set to move into their new Habitat for Humanity homes in Vandenburg Heights, excited for the possibilities.

Six-year-old Averie looks forward to painting her room purple and pink. Just next door, Damien and his brother, Alvin, are planning for a Halloween-themed birthday party in their new home.

At the Habitat for Humanity dedication ceremony last Wednesday, Averie’s mom Angela thanked the crowd of volunteers, home sponsors, family and friends.

“My parents gave me stability with a home in a welcoming community and I just wanted to do the same for my daughter— a home she can grow up in and always know she can come back to,” Angela said of her new Chicory Way house.

Rebecca says her sons 11-year-old Damian and eight-year-old Alvin are happy to move out of an apartment and have a backyard where they can play.

“I want to keep pushing my family forward and I believe our next step is owning a home,” Rebecca said. “It is important to teach my children the value of family and having a home through hard work and dedication.

With the new Chicory Way additions, there are now 40 Habitat for Humanity homes in the City of Sun Prairie. More homes are set to be finished on that block soon.

Mayor Paul Esser welcomes Habitat for Humanity’s work in Sun Prairie.

“We are pleased that Habitat for Humanity is in our community developing housing that people can afford to live in,” Esser said at the Sept. 18 ceremony. “That is a real asset and a gift that keeps on giving.”

Both Angela and Rebecca said without the help of Habitat for Humanity they wouldn’t have been able to buy their homes.

According to the “Housing Needs Assessment: Dane County and Municipalities” report, more than 22,000 very low-income households pay in excess of 30 percent on rent. More than 12,000 very low-income households pay in excess of 50 percent of their income in rent in Dane County, and of those, 2,200 are seniors.

Households that pay more than 30 percent of their monthly income on housing, are “cost-burdened,” and when they pay more 50 percent or more, they are “extremely cost-burdened.”

The Habitat for Humanity program makes homeownership affordable through low construction expenses, volunteer labor, and low or no-interest mortgages.

Homeowners have to make a down payment and have a monthly mortgage. They must also put in sweat equity by helping to build their homes and support Habitat’s efforts. Angela put in 325 hours working at the Habitat for Humanity Restore, learning from other volunteers, meeting Habitat homeowners.

“It is a really humbling experience,” Angela said. “Habitat for Humanity is helping people build their futures.”

Research shows that homeowners have more success in their lives and communities, said Valerie Renk, CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Dane County. Kids are more likely to stay in school, graduate and go on to college. Adults who own their homes show more interest in their community and vote, Renk said.

“Those are all things that make a better community,” Renk said. “Homeownership is really important not just for the homeowner but to all of us.”

At the Sept. 18 dedication, dozens of volunteers, Habitat staff, sponsors, friends and family gathered to celebrate with Angela and Rebecca and their families. Each family received a toolbox, quilts and Restore gift certificates before everyone had a piece of cake.

“A bunch of houses together does not make a community—-it is people like us—homeowners, sponsors, volunteers and staff — that make a community,” Renk said.

For more information on Habitat for Humanity, visit habitatdane.org.

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