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OUR VIEW: It’s time to give Habitat for Humanity a chance

It was nice to see Sally Van Cura from Habitat for Humanity as a rib-tasting judge over the weekend in downtown La Salle.
The director Habitat for Humanity of La Salle, Bureau and Putnam Counties made an appearance at the BBQ-n-Blues festival and got involved in La Salle-Peru without lobbying for a Habitat home to be constructed here. At least she was not doing so publicly.
It’s time to do a little lobbying for the organization.
Habitat for Humanity is constructing its 15th home in the three-county area, this one to help an employed mother of two girls afford home ownership in Ottawa. Its first 14 homes helped families toward the goal of owning a home and getting out of the cycle of living paycheck-to-paycheck, while also putting a roof over the heads of 30 children.
None of those homes have been constructed in La Salle or Peru.
Leaders of both cities have made an effort to flush out deadbeat or absentee landlords who charge rent, provide poor living conditions and put hardly any money back into the properties.
That’s admirable.
Some of the homes the city of La Salle has purchased over the past few years and demolished have been in absolutely terrible shape — dilapidated, in most cases, beyond repair.
This month the city council planned a discussion about guidelines or an ordinance for people who buy or own a vacant lot, often next to their home, and want to put up a garage — just a garage — on that lot. We don’t have an opinion on that.
However, in some of the La Salle neighborhoods where homes have been demolished on small lots, why not allow Habitat for Humanity to build there?
Habitat for Humanity is working to give working people (and sometimes veterans) a boost out of a situation where they work hard and make enough to get by, but not enough to avoid bankruptcy if they have a medical issue or even a car break-down. Habitat provides a lift up, not a handout. Donations of labor and materials cut costs, the families can put in sweat equity and then they get a home — and a mortgage and the responsibilities that go with ownership.
Habitat for Humanity helps people enter the middle class, and we certainly would like to see an increase in that population in our community.

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