Asking $135,000 for volunteer built home after cost became prohibitive to selected family
BY ETHAN LILLARD
Pen City Current/Radio Keokuk
KEOKUK- Tim Peevler will be the first to admit, he is no professional carpenter. What he does bring to the table, however, is a set of skills that allows families in need to find their forever homes thanks to Keokuk’s Habitats for Humanity program.
As the acting president for Keokuk’s chapter of Habitats, Peevler uses his real estate skills to assist the group with finding properties, maintaining properties and many other services at no charge. After all, why would the president charge his own organization?
“We’re just helping Habitat (for Humanity) do the marketing and then I would help write up the paperwork and help the buyers go through the process,” Peevler said. “I’m not allowed to hold a hammer or anything like that, that’s not my skill set. I help with the organization and I’m more than happy to do that.”
Peevler has been involved with Keokuk Habitat for Humanity for more five years now and says the program is excellent at helping to beautify the Keokuk community. But the biggest reason Peevler and the group put the work in that they do is to help families, who might not otherwise be able to afford a home, have somewhere to live that is both affordable and a place they can make a forever home.
“I see the benefit to the community of having newer homes and I see the joy that it brings to these families,” Peevler said. “That this is absolutely the only way they could get a home is through Habitat because no other avenues are open to them. They can’t get financing at a bank. If they could, they wouldn’t qualify for Habitat. They have to be lower to moderate income and they do have to be employed.”
For some that aren’t aware of how the projects work, they may think the homes are just “handed” to those in need. Peevler made sure he emphasized this is not the case with Habitats for Humanity. As a matter of fact, the person/family moving into the home is required to put in over 200 hours of manual labor on the home.
“They have a mortgage,” Peevler said. “They have to put in sweat equity. They get a no-interest loan and they have to be employed and they have to pay it all back, but everybody thinks, ‘Well, it’s Habitat, they just give them the home.’ Well, that’s not it. It’s more of a hand up than a handout.”
Thursday at 484 Messenger Road in Keokuk, Habitats for Humanity held an open house at their latest project. The home had originally started as a typical Habitat project, but by the time the project was complete, it became clear that the cost and taxes of the home would cause too much of a financial burden for a family who would qualify for the Habitat program.
So the group held its open house and is asking $135,000 for the home and a detached garage and a storage shed that is also included. All of the proceeds from the home will go directly towards Habitat for Humanities next project.
“The board always thought this would be a sale and part of that was because of the price and because of the taxes which a normal habitat family wouldn’t be able to afford, it would be too much of a burden for them,” Peevler said.
The homes are built at minimal cost thanks in part to labor being provided by offenders from nearby prisons. The labor, along with help from several organizations throughout the community is the sole reason these projects have been possible for the past 26 years.
“Without them, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do,” Peevler said about the offenders. “It gives them a really good feeling of being out, being in the community and being a part of something positive that, quite frankly, a lot of them might not have ever had in their lives. They are treated with respect, they’re given a good meal outside the facility and they are out every day. These are people that are non-violent offenders.
“There’s also a tremendous buy-in from businesses, restaurants, individuals and churches that supply meals to the offenders while they are here. It’s really great participation from everybody in the community.”
For Peevler, he hopes the program continues to be a success for many more years to come, stating that this organization is one of the best he has every had the privilege to be a part of.
“I’ve never worked with a more dedicated group of individuals,” Peevler said. “Habitat for Humanity is a Christian non-denominational group. That is the focus is to bring people to Christ and to do it in a manner that gives them a hand up instead of a handout.”