Throughout recent weeks, Habitat for Humanity of North Central Iowa (HFHNCI) has seen an increase in theft and hardship. Several cases of theft have been reported to the Cerro Gordo county police department by HFHNCI as of late, and are under investigation. These reports include a stolen jar of monetary donations from the ReStore checkout counter, a stolen tool trailer filled with over $6,000 of construction tools for use on their housing projects, two facility break in attempts resulting in repair costs, and most recently stolen mail with end of year donations during the Christmas holiday.
“It’s disheartening when our resources are being eaten up by theft. Our programs help so many, and when we have to deal with these sorts of things our capacity to focus on our programs shrinks.” shared Brian Lewerke, ReStore manager. “We work every day to help local North Iowans. And we will continue to do that with whatever resources we have.”
In addition to crime, Habitat has felt the loss of income this past year as a result of having to close the ReStore to the public for over 9 weeks due to COVID-19 last spring, as well as a decrease in volunteers and donations. These things all put together have put a heavy strain on the local non-profit.
“2020 has been a hard year for so many, especially many of the families that we serve.” says Melissa Schoneberg, executive director at HFHNCI. “We are thankful for our health. We are thankful that we can continue working on our housing projects and keep our ReStore open, and we are thankful that we’ve had the opportunity to help two more families become homeowners since July. But these cases of theft, additional hardships, and smaller numbers of volunteers and donations have impacted us greatly.”
Habitat for Humanity serves local residents who are in need of safe and affordable housing, but who are unable to qualify for a traditional bank loan. Habitat raises the money needed locally to build and renovate the homes, and then provides low-interest loans to qualified applicants with affordable monthly payments spread out over typically 30-35 year terms. The homes are primarily built by volunteers, along with the future homeowners, in order to keep the purchase cost affordable for the families. The low monthly payments that Habitat receives, makes up about 10% of their budget and goes into the “Fund for Humanity” to help to build future homes.
Habitat volunteers and staff recently completed homes in Garner and Mason City, are renovating another home in Mason City, and plan to begin another new construction homeownership project in Mason City this spring. Habitat also has a home repair program and installs aluminum modular ramps throughout its six-county service area. To share any information on the recent thefts, inquire about volunteering, to make a donation, to apply for housing assistance, or to get more information about Habitat for Humanity or the ReStore, call (641) 424-8978 or visit the website at www.habitatnci.org.