Following recent investment and redevelopment efforts in the Carson-Behrens neighborhood, O’Fallon, Illinois officials have renamed a local street to Habitat Way. Representatives from the O’Fallon chapter of the Lewis & Clark Habitat for Humanity organization received the new street sign from Mayor Herb Roach during a recent council meeting.
Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit, volunteer-run humanitarian group that builds and remodels houses for families in need. Jimmy Campbell, the vice-chair of the O’Fallon chapter of the Illinois Habitat for Humanity, feels that affordable housing is incredibly important for local families. Today, 1 out of 3 Illinois residents is considered low-income.
The local Habitat affiliate helps parents like Joleena Mejia, a certified nursing assistant who has never had a permanent residence for her family. Habitat for Humanity and local volunteers recently joined forces in Elgin to remodel a beautiful Victorian-era home. Mejia and her kids were on site to help in the construction efforts, which are expected to take 12 months to complete.
Most Habitat for Humanity homes are built from scratch, which makes Mejia’s future home particularly unique. The organization is working to maintain the original historic characteristics of the home, which was originally built in 1891. Whenever possible, original building materials will be repurposed instead of being scrapped.
Of course, not every element of a historic home should be kept intact. The single pane windows commonly installed before 1990
are extremely inefficient, allowing heat and cool air to escape the home and wasting a lot of money. Yet despite having no construction experience, Mejia installed her first window while working on the project.
According to the Belleville News-Democrat
, Mejia has already put nearly 250 hours of “sweat equity” into the home.
“It was exciting to have my kids here to see what the house looked like before its started,” Mejia told Chicago’s Daily Herald
. “I think my 3-year-old picked out what room he wanted already.”
Because of projects like these, towns such as O’Fallon are recognizing the work of Habitat for Humanity’s state chapter, which has been in operation since 1999.
“Renaming Elm Street as Habitat Way is the least we can do to show our respect for this great organization and the work they do,” said O’Fallon Mayor Roach.
This name change served two purposes for the city of O’Fallon. Having recently annexed the Carson and Behrens neighborhood, the city suddenly had two Elm Streets. A name change was proposed in a later council meeting, leading to Habitat Way.
In addition to building new homes, many Habitat for Humanity chapters help low-income homeowners make necessary home repairs. When a sewage line or roof fails, many homeowners simply can’t afford to stay in their homes. Considering that the average homeowner will spend between 1% to 4% of their home’s value
on maintenance and repairs every year, the work performed by Habitat for Humanity volunteers can literally keep a roof over a family’s head.
In total, there are 49 Habitat for Humanity state affiliates in the United States.