WEST FARGO - It may not be the grandest house on the block, but Nick and Hillary Hamilton of Fargo are more than happy to be partnering with the Lake Agassiz Habitat for Humanity to help build a simple and affordable home at 326 6th Ave. W.
"I heard (the news) in the car on the way home from work, and I started crying," Hillary said. "I was very excited and very happy to go home and tell Nick about it."
Saturday marked the organization's second wall-raising of the 2011 build season and the fourth-ever Women Build home.
Committed to working closely with their partner families, the organization provides interest-free mortgages in order to help the families succeed in repaying their mortgage and similar payments that come with being a homeowner. Due to the support they offer, an overwhelming response from the area illustrated just how many people are interested in their program.
"This year we had about 150 people who had expressed interest in partnering with us, so we clearly have the need in the community," Shirley Dykshoorn, executive director of Lake Agassiz Habitat for Humanity, said. "Partner families, instead of having an interest rate applied (to their mortgage), we require them to put in 250 hours per adult of sweat equity."
This sweat equity can include anything from office work for the organization to helping build their own and other families' Habitat homes.
The Hamiltons, who are outgrowing their current apartment, applied for their two children, Ryan, 4, and Abby, 2.
"We have a decent apartment now, but there's not a yard, and we don't feel safe letting them go outside and play," Nick said. "It never felt like home."
For their children's sake, the Hamiltons said the sweat-equity work was well worth it.
"It's meant a lot of work, both through the application process and then putting in our sweat-equity hours, but it's been really rewarding," Nick said. "We all really feel that we're partners in this and not just recipients."
Once the Habitat homes are complete, the organization continues working with their partner families, like the Hamiltons, to help ensure their success in homeownership, Dykshoorn said.
"As an organization, we're giving a hand up and not a handout," she said.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Emma Murray at (701) 241-5480