Home in Leetonia is 35th for local Habitat for Humanity

LEETONIA – It is the 35th house for the Habitat for Humanity of Northern Columbiana County overall and the ninth in Leetonia. The keys for the house were turned over to the family of Stella Willis and her daughters on Sunday.

The family partnered with the Habitat for Humanity nine months ago. The house, located at 274 Ridge St., was designed by students of the Kent State University school of architecture and environmental design. Materials and associated costs were developed by students of the construction management program in the College of Applied Engineering, Sustainability and Technology.

Barb Loudon, executive director for the HFHNCC, said, “We were overwhelmed by the students’ thoughtful, innovative designs and the enthusiasm with which they presented their work.”

The collaboration began in the fall of 2012 when assistant professor Joe Ferut, instructors Jack Hawk and Lee Phillips and lecturer George Bigham initiated a studio project to design a sustainable home for the HFHNCC. Fourth-year architect students designed 22 homes for three “challenging” lots.

Independent study students developed the house for Ridge Street to the point where there were workable drawings from which to build. The homes are designed to consume less energy using sustainable and low environmental impact materials. Several of the architect and construction management students helped in the actual construction.

Construction manager Scott Craven said everything about the house was new and challening to the students working on it. Houses must meet Habitat for Humainty criteria relative to size and afforcability. They also have to be worker friendly because much of the labor is done by volunteers.

A crowd of family friends, volunteer builders and KSU personnel were greeted by Habitat board President Dave Bedell at Sunday’s dedication. Bedell was a frequent volunteer at the site and the Willis family was presented by Mickey Buck, a member of the Family Support Committee and the family’s advocate. Willis and her children contributed more than 250 hours of volunteer work, called sweat equity, first to another family’s home and then to building their own home.

Craven presented the house keys while Pastor Steven Cramer led the traditional blessing of the house and board member Karen Penner presented the family with a Bible. The Koinonia Mission Company, a volunteer work group from Bethany Presbyterian Church in Rochester, N.Y., twice travelled to Salem for several construction days (for Salem houses) and Jim and Pam Bradley returned to lay the tongue and groove flooring Willis chose for her house.

Other contributors included the AirStreamers from Youngstown, the Salem High School Honor Society, Emmanuel Presbyterian Church, Winona Friends Church, University of Mount Union and a team from AmeriCorps NCCC.

The Columbiana County Community Housing Improvement Program provide partial funding for the house.

Habitat homes are not free and partner families pay a mortgage that is held by the Habitat. The partner families also pay property taxes and home-owners insurance.

The houses are affordable because no profit is made and the Habitat does not charge interest on the loan.