Habitat for Humanity column: A new beginning 01

The Burgess family with Orem Mayor Richard Brunst at the groundbreaking of their home.

Habitat for Humanity of Utah County broke ground on a new construction home on May 21 at 621 S. 1580 West, Orem, for a family of five currently living in a tiny postwar house.

For the past 10 years, the Burgess family has only been able to afford to rent an 80-year-old two-bedroom, one-bath home. The house is so small their two sons have had to sleep in an unfinished basement not much better than a utility room.

In addition to overcrowding, their current home has plumbing issues, cracked windows, lead paint and possibly even asbestos.

The groundbreaking represents a chance for the Burgess family to see their dream of safe and affordable housing take shape and truly change their lives.

A stable living situation and peaceful home life are essential for academic success. Habitat for Humanity enables hundreds of children every year to have such stability. Because of this, many can grow into successful academic and professional experiences in technological and other fields.

“Habitat for Humanity doesn’t just offer homeownership to those who would never be able to purchase a home through conventional means, it changes people’s lives,” said Alan Hill, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Utah County.

Habitat for Humanity is committed to giving families with real needs a hand up, not a handout. This means that families are carefully vetted and prepared for home ownership. Before being approved, families applying for a Habitat for Humanity home go through an extensive qualification process.

“Sometimes, people just need a little financial guidance and support to raise themselves out of their current living and housing situations,” said LeAnn Hillam, Habitat for Humanity of Utah County’s volunteer coordinator.

The Burgess family was selected because of their need, ability to make a monthly mortgage payment and willingness to partner with Habitat for Humanity.

In addition, the Burgess family will put in 500 hours of “sweat equity” working on their own home and other homes being built in the area, working at the ReStore and taking financial literacy and home maintenance classes.

“Taking part in the actual building of the house helps families gain a deeper appreciation for it as well as helps them learn how to take care of it,” Hill said.

This home will be the 74th that Habitat for Humanity has built or renovated in Utah County, and is the first in a five-home subdivision.

These new homes are built as affordable as possible by relying on hundreds of volunteers, donated materials and sponsorship from companies such as Simplifile, Ancestry.com, Wells Fargo, doTerra, Trebor and Xactware.

“When we build any home, we see the entire community come together to help lift a family’s standard of living,” Hillam said. “It is truly powerful to see so many people come together for one deserving family.”

To learn more about how to donate or volunteer, go to https://www.habitatuc.org or email info@habitatuc.org.