Shutdown puts brakes on Habitat for Humanity

2013-10-09T15:00:00Z 2013-10-17T10:16:10Z Shutdown puts brakes on Habitat for HumanityJON ERICSON ​jonathan.ericson@wcfcourier.com Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier

WATERLOO | The federal shutdown may stop some Habitat for Humanity projects from being prepared for winter.

Iowa Heartland Habitat for Humanity was scheduled to have eight young people from the Americorps National Civilian Community Corps start working on four homes this Monday. With the federal government in a partial shutdown, those workers aren’t coming.

News that the Americorps crew would not be coming just arrived last Friday afternoon, throwing the fall construction schedule for a loop.

“We work very hard to line up construction crews in advance,” said Amanda Herold-Mahncke, program director. “Losing a group for 10 days of work -- at the last minute -- has thrown construction off schedule.”

The group is currently working on four houses in the area. Two of them are expected to still be completed and closings arranged before the end of October. However, the loss of the Americorps crew will set the timing back on the other two.

One house, at 434 Florence Ave. in Waterloo, needed the extra manpower to get the home sealed up for work to continue through the winter. With walls yet to be constructed and roof trusses yet to be set in place, that is now in doubt.

“The house on Florence probably wasn’t going to be done until late winter, but we wanted to get ahead of winter and close it up,” said Lindsay Pieters, development director for Iowa Heartland Habitat for Humanity.

The work crew was arranged in August and Habitat for Humanity built those hours into their construction schedules. Even if the federal shutdown ends soon, there’s no indication whether Habitat would still have a crew.

Steve King, construction manager for Habitat, is working out alternate plans.

“We basically lost full-time work. This will set us back three weeks. The worst of it is winter is coming and we need to enclose the house -- it’s a chain reaction, we can’t schedule the subcontractors and their schedule fills up and then there is another delay,” King said.

Habitat for Humanity has been reaching out to those who have volunteered on their projects in the past to try to make up for the lost manpower. The group completes 10 to 12 homes per year in Black Hawk, Bremer and Butler counties. The homes are built with a combination of volunteer labor, homeowner sweat equity hours and donations of money and materials.

Once completed, the homes are sold to the new homeowners with zero percent interest mortgages.

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