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The Journal Gazette

Monday, June 19, 2017 1:00 am

Building momentum: Habitat making difference around community

To participate

 Groundbreaking for Habitat for Humanity's new ReStore at 4747 Lima Road will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday. For information about the project or to donate, go to


 The framing of Habitat's 200th home will be from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 29 on the I&M Plaza, 100 E. Wayne St. To participate in a half-hour shift, contact Jamee Lock at before June 28.

The local Habitat for Humanity has a lot to celebrate as it turns 30 this year.

Habitat is a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian group that builds affordable housing throughout the country. The local chapter, which changed its name to Habitat for Humanity of Greater Fort Wayne after it merged with a smaller affiliate in Huntington last month, will soon begin construction on its 200th home.

Though Habitat homes have been constructed in several locations over the years, the group's efforts for the last four years have focused on a site called Fuller's Landing on West Cook Road in northwest Fort Wayne.

“Four years ago, we went from being a home builder to being a community builder,” CEO Justin Berger said during a recent visit with our editorial board.

At Fuller's Landing, Berger said, “We're putting like people together with like goals, and they're all lifting each other up.” The group has begun to vary the styles of the homes it creates, and is adding small but significant amenities such as two-car garages, concrete driveways and front porches. “We wanted to create a ripple effect and say, this is what affordable housing should look like,” Berger said.

Twenty-eight families now have homes in the subdivision, and four homes are under construction. The organization also would like to explore other sites for future homes.

“We have 27 families waiting for a home,” Berger said, “and we are turning away about 40 a month.”

Two events Habitat plans for this month may help the organization raise the money it needs to better keep pace with that demand.

Habitat derives revenue from contributions, the mortgage payments it receives on its houses, and ReStore, a home-improvement resale operation on Wells Street.

Megan Hubartt, Habitat's director of communications, said the store has been very successful, offering many donated items along with some commercially purchased goods. “Some of our biggest sellers are things like appliances and furniture, and a lot of building materials” as well as flooring, Hubartt said.

But the Wells site is not a high-visibility location, and “our sales floor is not as big as we would like it to be,” Hubartt said. “We can't display all of our donations, because we just don't have the room.”

A study predicted ReStore could double its revenue in about two years with a better location.

Tuesday morning, officials will break ground on a new ReStore facility on Lima Road (see artist's rendering above). The site just south of Production Road offers accessibility, more parking and increased visibility. The new store will be roughly twice as big as the current one. Fundraising will soon move into high gear – Habitat has raised $1.8 million in a $4.5 million capital campaign for the project.

On June 27, Habitat will celebrate its 30th anniversary and seek donations for home building with a construction event on I&M Plaza. The organization is seeking volunteers to take half-hour shifts constructing the frame of its 200th home, which will then be transported to Fuller's Landing.

Making affordable housing available not only strengthens families but strengthens the community. Come to one or both of these events and help support an organization that is making a difference.