December 27, 1997 in City

Work, Simplicity Propel Habitat

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Denise Otradovec may soon hang a “Home Sweet Home” sign at her new house on East DeSmet.

This year Habitat for Humanity’s Spokane chapter celebrates its 10th anniversary. It is building its 50th house, financed by the mortgage payments on previous Habitat houses, for Otradovec and her two children.

Habitat for Humanity’s deceptively simple, yet creative idea has captured the imagination of people around the globe. Former President Jimmy Carter has said, “I get a lot more recognition for building houses in partnership with people than I ever got for the Camp David Accord or for SALT II. … I can walk down the aisles of airplanes talking with people and invariably the No. 1 thing that everybody says is, ‘Tell me about Habitat.”’

Habitat has built more than 60,000 homes worldwide. It follows an “unashamedly Christian” vision that welcomes the participation of people of all faiths and no faith. It accomplishes its goals with a firm belief, not in flowery language, but in the power of work. That belief stems from a simple sentence, from 1 John 3:18: “Our love must not be just words; it must be true love which shows itself in action.”

Habitat requires action on the part of new home-owners as well.

They must donate 500 hours of sweat equity, pounding nails not only in their own homes but also for others. Otradovec already has logged 700 hours.

The homes are not free gifts. They require $1,000 down payments and small, steady mortgage payments. These interest-free loans can be repaid in monthly checks for as little as $150.

This concept has a wide appeal in the Inland Northwest. Older volunteers from a generation that prided itself on hard work and frugality feel a deep sense of satisfaction when they help a struggling family.

Younger volunteers find the energy infectious, and discover unexplored dimensions of themselves as they develop new skills and tap their own generosity.

Congratulations, Habitat, for a decade of constructing simple, decent housing for low-income families in our community. One local Habitat volunteer scrawled on a brand new wall stud, “Joy to all who enter.”

Joy has remarkable properties. Habitat manages to spread it throughout Spokane as it builds both homes and community with the realistic and profound “theology of the hammer.”

, DataTimes The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Jamie Tobias Neely/For the editorial board


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