Two families have new homes in the Renaissance on Park neighborhood, as Habitat for Humanity of Dane County has finished some of the 19 homes planned to be completed by 2021.
Those homes are for the families of Rosario Odegard and Juan Carlos, who previously had unstable housing situations.
Odegard said she looks forward to hosting a family reunion at her new house this Christmas, which would have been almost impossible because she has had to move from one rental apartment to the other.
But now it’s possible.
Her new house, on the city’s northwest side, will be the 15th affordable housing unit that Habitat for Humanity of Dane County has built in Fitchburg. Odegard said to her, it’s more than a house, but a secure and safe place where her son can enjoy a “happy” and “healthy” life.
“It’s my greatest blessing to be able to have our own house,” Odegard said.
Odegard’s two-bedroom, single-story house is one of the 268 homes Habitat of Humanity of Dane County has built with low income families since 1987. So far, it has helped with people in 18 different communities in the county, including Fitchburg, Sun Prairie and Madison.
With the help of over 3,000 volunteers and donors, the families can benefit a down payment of $500 and a no-interest loan. Although houses cost the same as market price, the homeowners’ monthly payments are fixed, 25 percent of their income.
Originally from Honduras, Odegard said she was always worried about safety in her neighborhood because she could only afford an apartment with lower rent. Now she feels secure to have friends and nice neighbors around, most of whom are also Habitat for Humanity homeowners.
Juan Carlos is one of her neighbors. He once lived in a trailer for three years, and moved in to his new home last year. He has volunteered to build other families’ homes since 2015, helping install windows and floors. During the 10-month construction of his own house, about 15 volunteers helped him out.
“I’m very grateful to meet all those people,” Carlos told the Star.
The homeowners are required to take personal credit courses, maintain three years of good housing history and spend 375 hours helping to build their new home. They also volunteer in building homes for other families.
The volunteers also help with fundraisers and aim to raise about $1 million each year to build 15 affordable housing over the course of a year. CEO of Habitat for Humanity Valerie Johnson Renk said some volunteers are inspired by seeing others do them the same favor.
“We’re bringing the community together,” Renk told the Star. “People from different background work with together.”