With tools in hand, Karissa Truex — alongside 20 volunteers — raised the walls on what will soon be her new three-bedroom home.
In roughly 10 weeks, Truex will sign a mortgage and officially become a homeowner. Her home is the latest construction project by Wichita Habitat for Humanity as part of its "Rock the Block" initiative.
“I feel like I’m building a foundation for my kids’ future because they’re going to have a safe place to be, a comfortable place [to live],” she said. “We’re going to make it full of love and laughter.”
Truex's house is the 37th in the Rock the Block project, an area between Hillside and Grove and Ninth and 13th Streets.
Truex is a single mother to three children, ages 3, 5 and 7. She works as an assistant to a neurology specialist in Wichita.
She praised the opportunity as “a renewal of life.”
She said owning her own house will give her financial stability. The three-bedroom house will allow her daughter to live in her own room, while her two sons share a room.
Ann Fox, executive director for Wichita Habitat for Humanity, said the project has uplifted the community.
“We see this as a community that is re-energizing,” she said. “It’s important to have affordable housing in the vicinity for the hard-working, low-income people who support our quality of life in the community.”
Habitat for Humanity brings together donations to allow qualified, low-income families to purchase a home with zero-percent interest. Families are selected based on a set of criteria that include income and need for housing.
Fox said most have jobs that serve the community, like daycare providers, nursing assistants and school teachers.
“For low-income families, it’s very challenging to find home ownership in this community,” Fox said. “Home ownership definitely sets them up for financial stability, and these homes are very affordable."
The houses are high efficiency, all-electric and equipped with new Whirlpool appliances that are fixed into the mortgage.
Habitat for Humanity will use about 2,000 hours of volunteer labor supplied from 15 different company sponsors to construct the home.
Chris Howell, president of UMB Bank Western Kansas and chair of Habitat for Humanity’s board, said he has seen a revitalization of the community since breaking ground in 2014.
“It’s really important that we continue to focus on affordable, safe housing in this community,” he said. “For Habitat and others in this community to be able to focus on that and continue to drive that mission, it’s vitally important.”
Evan Pflugradt is an intern in the KMUW News Lab. Follow him @EvPflu