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Published September 19, 2012, 11:30 PM

‘Our own place’: Fargo family gets Habitat for Humanity home

FARGO – After living in a women’s shelter and moving frequently, April Nelson and her two children will soon get the keys to their new home, built by members of the Home Builders Association of Fargo-Moorhead.

By: Tracy Frank, INFORUM

FARGO – After living in a women’s shelter and moving frequently, April Nelson and her two children will soon get the keys to their new home, built by members of the Home Builders Association of Fargo-Moorhead.

“It’s a blessing,” she said. “We’ve never really had a stable home. Being sometimes in a shelter or sometimes in apartments, now we’ll have our own place for once. It will feel more like home.”

Members of the Home Builders Care Foundation and Home Builders Association of Fargo-Moorhead helped build a home at 902 27th St. N. in Fargo with Lake Agassiz Habitat for Humanity this summer for Nelson and her children, Brooke, 10, and Blake, 7.

“We never expected a huge thank you. It’s just something that we wanted to do,” said Terry Becker of Terry Becker Construction and Home Builders Association president. “We’re just thankful for all of the members who have contributed.”

Nelson, who is originally from Warren, Minn., was living in Grand Forks when she divorced her husband five years ago and became involved with an abusive man.

To escape the relationship, she and her children had to live in a Grand Forks women’s shelter for a short time.

The Nelsons’ new home is handicap-accessible to accommodate Nelson’s son, Blake, who has cerebral palsy.

The house has a more open floor plan, the bathroom is handicap-accessible, and there is a room built on the main level in case Blake has surgery and needs to use a wheelchair, Nelson said.

Nelson has driven by the house often when she takes her daughter to school, and her children are excited to move in, she said.

“Blake talks about the house all the time,” she said. “He said he can’t wait to play with the dog in the back yard because we’ve never had a back yard.”

Bryce Johnson, Home Builders Association of Fargo-Moorhead executive vice president, said it means a lot to see how excited Nelson and her children are about the home.

“That has such a huge impact and knowing how appreciative she and that it’s going to have an impact on her life and her kids’ lives is huge,” she said. “It’s rare that we get to see that side.”

This past summer, Nelson worked alongside Home Builders Care Foundation and Home Builders Association members to help build her new home.

“It’s been amazing to see all the people who come and help and who are so giving,” Nelson said. “It was so much fun to go out and work on the house with everybody.”

She must spend 250 hours working on her home, the homes of others and in the Habitat ReStore as a requirement for becoming a Habitat homeowner, said Krista Mund, HBA communications manager in a blog entry about the build.

Like all families that partner with Habitat for Humanity, Nelson won’t receive a free home, but will purchase it with an interest-free loan that will be paid back over the course of the mortgage, Mund said.

Nelson is also required to attend 20 educational classes to learn about budgeting, home maintenance and home safety, Mund said.

While foundation and association members have been involved in builds for years, this is the groups’ first Habitat for Humanity build they’ve done on their own, Johnson said.

“For years we’ve been trying to do a project as an association and a foundation, but due to timing and the business of the industry we weren’t able to,” she said.

HBA members donated a lot of the labor and materials that typically have to be paid for in a Habitat build, said Dave Anderson of Dave Anderson Construction and Home Builders Care Foundation president.

“I think we all realized what we already knew that our members are very generous,” he said.

Habitat homes don’t usually come with garages, but foundation and association members decided to donate the materials and build one, Johnson said.

“It doesn’t surprise me because of the way our members are,” she said.

The project broke ground in mid-May. The home dedication is Monday and the Nelsons get to move into their new home in October after the closing.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Tracy Frank at (701) 241-5526

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