Family building a better future in Partridge

Dec 11, 2014

By: Fed Solis, The Clarion 

For Dwayne and Brandy Mitts, the American dream of owning a home is coming together at Partridge.

With the help of Interfaith Housing Services, the Partridge Community Church and the Mitts’ own labor, called sweat equity under the housing program’s mutual self-help guidelines, a three-bedroom house is under construction for the couple and six of their children, ages 5, 9, 9, 11, 12 and 15.

“I think it’s amazing,” Dwayne said. “With sweat equity, it will mean much more to us.”

The couple’s work toward building the house is central to the mutual self-help program that is designed for low to moderate income households that meet income guidelines, said Susan Goans of Interfaith Housing.

“The program gives families the opportunity to own new homes that otherwise wouldn’t have the chance,” Goans said.

The organization is helping four families in Reno County build homes for themselves, three in South Hutchinson, and one in Partridge. The families collaborate on each other’s houses during their respective construction, working 20 to 30 hours per week on aspects of construction that don’t require licensure, such as flooring. A construction supervisor accompanies them when they work on the houses.

Before the building can begin, though, Goans helps the families qualify and secure housing loans through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Program. The sweat equity, calculated to be valued at about $25,000, will be applied to the loan as a down payment. Last week the interest rate for 33-to 38-year-loans stood at 3.62 percent. The longer duration of the loan makes the homes more affordable to participants in the program. Insurance and taxes are folded into the home’s escrow account, Goans said.

Along with the credit services Goans provides to families in the program, she gives them the tools they need to work and maintain their homes. In addition to three bedrooms, the Mitts’ home will have two baths, a two-car garage, and appliance package and an unfinished basement. It is scheduled to be finished in April 2015. Fourteen additional Interfaith Housing projects are slated to be completed in South Hutchinson and Partridge in 2015, Goans said.

One of Dwayne’s first home projects will be adding two more bedrooms and a bathroom in the basement for his children. The new house will be a welcome change from the public housing unit the family is living in now in Wichita.

“To me, the money we’re spending on the home is nothing,” Dwayne said. “The most important thing I’m spending my money on is a better future for my kids.”

That goes for relocating his family to Partridge, too.

“One of the main reasons we chose Partridge is because everyone is more close-knit and looks out for each other. The kids are ready,” he said.