Interfaith shows off rescued house

Mar 19, 2015

By: Tim Schrag 

After a fire in 2008 it appeared the two-bedroom house at 213 W. 7th Ave. would no longer be a home.

In fact, it sat abandoned for about six years. The house was even on the city’s demolition list. Then, Interfaith Housing Services came into the picture in April of last year. The group took ownership of the house and began breathing life back into residence.

With the help of volunteers from the United Way, the Conservative Anabaptist Service Program and many others, the house will soon be a home once again. These groups spent months working to clear out the house and then rehabilitate it with the goal of getting it in the hands of a first-time home buyer. The Conservative Anabaptist Service Program sent eight young men, most of whom had building experience, plus staff to help remodel the house over the course of a few weeks. The men lived in a volunteer house owned by Interfaith during the project.

The group also helped Interfaith restore another home in South Hutchinson that was recently damaged by a fire.

“It looks very good to me,” said David L. Miller, who helped bring the volunteers from the service program to Hutchinson.

The workers were able to salvage most of the home, preserving the original pine floors and keeping the kitchen cabinets.

“You can do something nice for people and not necessarily spend a lot of money to do it,” said Ron Fisher, Interfaith Housing’s director of operations.

There are still a few details that need finalizing, but overall the house is move in ready. The Reno County Appraiser valued the house at $60,000. The homes are sold at appraisal value, Fisher said.

“This project shows the potential to something that was deemed dozer worthy if the resources are brought into focus,” Fisher said. “We’re only limited by resources and people. Gifted volunteers make all the difference.”

John Scott, president and CEO of the Interfaith, said the group has been rehabilitating about two houses a year for the past several years calling it a win-win for the everyone involved.

Interfaith held an open house at the home to show off the fruits of their labor Wednesday evening.

Among those who stopped in for a visit was Hutchinson City Council Member Nancy Soldner, who believed this house had more history to it than just overcoming a fire. Soldner, who worked in the Hutchinson School District, believes the home to be a Hoke House. Hoke Houses were named after a local businessman who made an effort to build affordable housing for his employees in the early 1900s.

She later returned with an old worksheet on Hutchinson history which featured the Hoke House. The house looked incredibly similar.

“We just used to teach Hutchinson history in the third grade,” she said.

Fisher said the appraiser believed the house to be a Sears Kit Home, but after looking at Soldner’s worksheet changed his mind.

The house already has a soon to be new owner. Ethan Ward, 23, has signed the paperwork and will close on the house in May.

“I’m absolutely thrilled,” Ward said. “The stuff they do with these houses is incredible.”

Ward took part in Interfaith’s Creating Assets, Savings and Hope or CASH program. CASH helps low to moderate income households to save for the purchase of a high-return asset. Individuals learn to overcome obstacles and master savings in a six hour financial education class.

Upon completion of the class, clients are eligible to open a savings account and receive a 2:1 match for every dollar they save. Qualifying households save for a minimum of six months towards the purchase of a first home, making repairs on their current home, furthering their education or capitalizing a small business.

Interfaith hopes to continue to ease housing needs in Hutchinson by doing projects like this, Fisher said.

“We are absolutely wanting to grow in our connections with the city and other organizations to revitalize these communities,” Fisher said.

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