For Daniel Ghebremedhin and his family, homeownership is just the latest piece of fulfilling their American dream. It’s a dream that will soon be fulfilled by Habitat for Humanity — and for the first time in the nonprofit’s history, it will be in Eagan.
The home — located on Easter Lane — was foreclosed and sat vacant for five years until it was donated earlier this year to Habitat for Humanity, making it the organization’s first project in the city.
The home incurred extensive damage including toxic mold after water pipes burst.
“We knew we had a lot of rehab,” said Kristin Beckmann, vice president of Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity.
As a result, the project is estimated to cost between $60,000 and $90,000, which is higher than average for a Habitat project.
The Dakota County Community Development Agency assisted in funding the mold remediation.
Once the mold was removed, volunteers were able to begin work on the rest of the home, which includes installing new walls, floors, doors, landscaping and updating the kitchen and bathroom.
On Oct. 10, about 20 volunteers, including Mayor Mike Maguire and council members Paul Bakken and Gary Hansen, installed flooring and shelves and painted the exterior of the 1,300-square-foot, three-bedroom split-level home. All improvements are aimed at fitting into the character of the neighborhood, Beckmann said.
The project includes energy efficient features, including the furnace and appliances, to help keep the homeowner’s monthly costs low.
“If the family gets in and can’t afford to heat the house, we’ve defeated our purpose,” Beckmann said.
Maguire said he is pleased to see a Habitat project in Eagan.
“It’s a real win-win for the folks who purchase the house and the neighborhood that has been dealing with a challenging property for five years,” Maguire said.
Maguire, who volunteered with Habitat for the first time last week, said enjoyed the opportunity to help his community.
Beckmann looks to Eagan’s existing affordable housing options as a possible reason why Habitat hasn’t previously had a project in the city.
“Dakota County does a good job at building affordable housing,” she said. “Some communities look to Habitat to develop their affordable housing.”
Known for building new homes, Habitat for Humanity has increasingly rehabbed homes due to the foreclosure crisis and expectations of city officials.
At the height of the crisis, about 70 percent of Habitat homes were rehabs, Beckmann said.
“Now as the crisis ebbs, we have a little more new homes,” she said. “But it also depends on the community’s needs.”
Hansen has been involved in Habitat for Humanity for a number of years and said he is excited to see Habitat come to Eagan after 37 years.
Eagan resident and Habitat for Humanity Minnesota board member Bo Thao-Urabe said she is excited to see the nonprofit rehab a home in her community.
“I think it’s great for the city and I’m eager to welcome a new families and support affordable housing,” said Thao-Urabe, who worked on the home last Thursday.
Habitat homes aren’t a free handout. Families pass many of the same borrowing standards as other homeowners and pay a mortgage. The mortgage is based on 30 percent of the family’s income and is interest free.
More than 1,000 families have purchased homes in the Twin Cities from Habitat for Humanity.
All Habitat families must meet income guidelines and are required to put between 300 and 500 hours of labor into a Habitat project in lieu of a down payment. They must also complete homeownership training and courses on financing prior to purchasing the home.
Ghebremedhin and his wife, Elelta Afework, hope to close on the home by April. The couple immigrated to the United States in 2008 from Eritrea, a small coastal African nation located between Ethiopia and Sudan. They will live in the home with their three children: Sidona, 8, Lulia, 4, and Shalom, 1, as well as Elelta’s mother, Migsti.
Ghebremedhin, who currently rents in St. Paul, said he is excited to move to Eagan.
“It will be nice to be close to my cousins in Eagan and it has good schools. We’re very happy,” Ghebremedhin said.