Habitat for Humanity starts new home for Grand Forks family of fourThe unfinished residence at 617 N. 24th St. in Grand Forks may not look like much yet, but to Andria Ruud and her three children, it is home.
By: Austin Ashlock, Grand Forks Herald
The unfinished residence at 617 N. 24th St. in Grand Forks may not look like much yet, but to Andria Ruud and her three children, it is home.
With the help of the Red River Valley Habitat for Humanity, Ruud and her family are currently awaiting the completion their new home, something Ruud said seemed too good to be true.
“It’s just all so surreal,” Ruud said. “I’m just so happy, there is no way to put it into words.”
Since Ruud’s husband died in 2011, she and her children have not had a stable living space, with the four of them now living with her mother in Grand Forks.
Ruud said, looking back, she couldn’t have imagined being in the position her family was in.
“It is remarkable to see that out of something so tragic, with faith, hard work, love and support, life can still be happy,” Ruud said.
Habitat for Humanity, which started construction on Ruud’s five-bedroom house Thursday, said the project was its first for 2013.
Kyle Kosior, executive director for Red River Valley Habitat for Humanity, said building a home for a family in need is a priceless experience.
“Everybody deserves a decent home,” Kosior said. “Once you see what this means to them, and hear them talk about all the things they have now, you realize you are doing something more than just giving someone an inanimate object, it really is special.”
Habitat for Humanity is a nationwide organization that builds homes for families in need, selling them at no profit and financed with zero-percent interest loans.
In order to qualify for a Habitat home, applicants must fail to qualify for traditional mortgages.
Habitat for Humanity relies heavily on volunteers to help build homes, as well as provide material and equipment for home-building projects.
Kosior said 50 to 60 volunteers have already signed up to work on Ruud’s home, with more expected as the project pushes on.
“A lot of these volunteers are just people who want to help,” Kosior said. “Most of them don’t have any building skills, but we find something for them to do.”
Kevin Fee, communications supervisor at Minnkota Power Cooperative, said this is his first time volunteering for Habitat for Humanity.
“I am not the handiest man in the world, but this has definitely given me a lot to learn,” Fee said. “Knowing that one day a mother and her three kids will be living in this house is truly a remarkable honor.”
However, not all volunteers are inexperienced first-timers.
For Herb Valgren, 66, a retired math teacher from Grand Forks, volunteering for Habitat for Humanity is just another day on the job. The Ruuds’ will be his ninth Habitat home.
“It just contradicts the people who say teachers have the summers off,” said Valgren.
Additional volunteers from the Grand Forks Air Force Base, area fire departments and Minnkota are expected to join the effort in coming weeks.
Ruud said the selflessness of others has motivated her to help families just like hers through Habitat for Humanity.
“I feel like the only way I can truly give my thanks is to continue to pay it forward like all of these wonderful people have,” Ruud said. “This isn’t it for me.”
While Red River Valley Habitat for Humanity has had no problem obtaining manpower to build homes, the cost of building in a tight housing market has been a challenge.
Kosior said a lull in fundraising combined with the high costs of building has slowed down the organization’s progress.
“Until we become more established in the community we are limited to building one house at a time,” Kosior said. “It’s really just a matter of getting materials, and that’s tough these days.”
The tight market may have stretched funds, but while homebuyers and realtors around Grand Forks are desperate to find useable land to build on, Red River Valley Habitat for Humanity is well off.
According to Kosior, the city donated several building sites to the organization prior to the housing crisis.
Following the completion of the house in late July or early August, the organization will move on to finding families to fill a duplex being constructed next door to the Ruud’s new home.
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