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Jan Sederholm, executive director of Habitat for Humanity in Springfield, is shown at a home site in the organization's Legacy Trails subdivision where construction is expected to begin in a few weeks. The Springfield Habitat affiliate built an annual record of 11 homes in 2008.
Jan Sederholm, executive director of Habitat for Humanity in Springfield, is shown at a home site in the organization's Legacy Trails subdivision where construction is expected to begin in a few weeks. The Springfield Habitat affiliate built an annual record of 11 homes in 2008.

Springfield Habitat sets building record in 2008

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Despite a slumping economy and a struggling real estate market, Springfield's affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International provided a record number of homes in 2008 for eligible families in Greene County.

"Even though the economy, and home construction in particular, is in decline, we haven't found a decline in participation and sponsorship," said Jan Sederholm, executive director of Habitat for Humanity in Springfield. "Our outlook is still very positive ... We still need lots of help this year, but we anticipate being able to build as many houses as we have in the past."

In 2008, the Springfield Habitat affiliate completed a record 11 houses, she said. In 2007, the group built 10 houses, and it built eight houses in 2006. Since its beginning in 1988, the local affiliate has completed 111 affordable homes for families that are able to use sweat equity to help them purchase the homes.

Sederholm said Habitat has thousands of volunteers from church groups, companies, schools and individuals who help with construction, which is largely funded by donations.

Coming off its record year, Habitat this year has added Tools for Life, a 14-week series of free classes designed to help Habitat homeowners prevent foreclosure and be successful in their neighborhoods.

"We have a very low foreclosure rate, and we want to keep it that way," Sederholm said.

Habitat also offers classes on budgeting, home maintenance and financial counseling.

Melissa Griffin, the marketing and communications director for Habitat for Humanity of Springfield, said similar programs have been offered to homeowners, but Tools for Life has expanded to serve anyone in the community who wants to attend. She said the program is essential to making sure Habitat families keep their homes.

"It's important for us that we are not sending people through the program and setting them up to fail," Griffin said.

Another new program, Project ReHabitat, is designed to turn neglected inner-city lots into affordable, energy-efficient housing for Habitat applicants.

"Our houses that we're building with project ReHabitat are all Energy-Star houses," Sederholm said.

She said the chapter plans to build at least three houses a year in the city, on reclaimed lots, to help revitalize Springfield and make the best use of the land.

Griffin said the organization is looking for lot donors, who will get tax credits for their donations.

"Due to the current housing market, there are a lot of people who are having trouble selling the homes that they have," Griffin said. "We're coming across people with dilapidated houses who can't afford to rehab them themselves, can't afford to sell them and are looking for other options."[[In-content Ad]]

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