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2 thefts delay, but don't stop Habitat for Humanity homebuilding efforts for UND student

Habitat for Humanity executive director Kyle Kosior and board chair Mike Sullivan discuss their project after new tools were presented to them from Home of Economy on June 29, 2016 in Grand Forks, N.D. (Meg Oliphant/Grand Forks Herald)1 / 6
Hawo Ahmed, a nutrition student at UND, takes in the progress being made to her new home built by Habitat for Humanity on June 29, 2016 in Grand Forks, N.D. (Meg Oliphant/Grand Forks Herald)2 / 6
Gilberto Rivas, Gregorio Sanchez, and Miguel Angel work on the future home of Hawo Ahmed on June 29, 2016 in Grand Forks, N.D. (Meg Oliphant/Grand Forks Herald)3 / 6
Hawo Ahmed, a nutrition student at UND, videotapes the progress being made to her new home on June 29, 2016 in Grand Forks, N.D. (Meg Oliphant/Grand Forks Herald)4 / 6
Hawo Ahmed, a nutrition student at UND, takes in the progress being made to her new home on June 29, 2016 in Grand Forks, N.D. (Meg Oliphant/Grand Forks Herald)5 / 6
Gilberto Rivas looks out the window as the Habitat for Humanity sign is fixed at the future home of Hawo Ahmed, a nutrition student at UND, on June 29, 2016 in Grand Forks, N.D. (Meg Oliphant/Grand Forks Herald)6 / 6

Hawo Ahmed and her children are closer to having a house of their own after thefts delayed construction of their Habitat for Humanity home in Grand Forks.

Ahmed, a UND student studying nutrition, applied for housing with the nonprofit organization in 2013 and was selected after an interview process and home visit. She, her 4-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter live in a "little two bedroom apartment" at the moment, she said.

Everyone is looking forward to having their own room, Ahmed said.

"I can study better," she said.

Tools used by Habitat for Humanity volunteers to build affordable homes for lower income families will also have a safe home thanks to a community fundraising.

The new equipment, which includes a job site table saw, circular saw, reciprocating saws and generator, were donated to replace equipment stolen from the construction site earlier this spring.

The tools were presented to Red River Valley Habitat for Humanity executive director Kyle Kosior on Wednesday afternoon, along with a 20-foot metal container parked on the lawn in front of the blue Habitat house on North 24th Street.

"It's steel and locks up tight," Kosior said, of the portable storage unit, which replaces a wooden shed that thieves have raided on two occasions.

"We didn't want to commit to the tools, only for them to be stolen again," said Linn Hodgson, an account manager at Ad Monkeys. Hodgson spearheaded efforts to replace the tools after he read about the thefts in the Herald.

The case is still open for investigation, according to police.

Now that Habitat for Humanity has secure storage space for new equipment, Kosior said, they can "ramp up efforts" to finish the house.

Contractors began putting in sheets of drywall, a task usually done by volunteers had tools been available, this week, Kosior said.

Trim, panels and interior finishes such as electrical outlets, light fixtures and appliances will go in next, he said.

Habitat for Humanity has built 25 houses in the 29 years that the nonprofit organization has been in the area, Kosior said. A house like Ahmed's takes about $165,000 in grants and donations and about a year to construct, he said, although some have gone faster.

Altogether, Kosior said he estimated that the tool theft set them back about six weeks. They broke ground on the house in May of 2015 and were aiming to have the house ready by Halloween, he said.

"Now we're looking at a Christmas or New Year's move-in date," Kosior said.

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