Every year during Welcome Week, many Texas Tech students gather to help build homes with Habitat for Humanity, an international Christian based organization that helps build houses all over the world.
This week, students were tasked with helping with a few of the finishing touches of a home that began construction last year.
This new home has been given to the parents of three children. Often, Habitat homes are given to larger families in need of a place to stay, or single parent households where either the mother or father is struggling to stay afloat.
Cameron Collins, the volunteer coordinator, said there is a misconception that Habitat for Humanity gives away homes for free.
There are three qualifications applicants must meet: there must be a need for a home; the family must be willing to partner with Habitat for Humanity, giving 500 hours of sweat equity, which includes volunteering to work on houses for other families, working in the organization’s construction and home décor restores, participating in classroom workshops which consists of establishing credit, maintaining credit, repairing credit and home maintenance.
There must also be a means to repay the affordable mortgage.
“By the time they get in a Habitat house, they are financially responsible and ready to be responsible homeowners,” Collins said.
There are many ways Habitat for Humanity can make these homes affordable for future families, Collins said. The construction and home décor restores are similar to thrift stores in regards to donations and help bring in income.
Citizens, businesses, construction companies, corporate sponsors or anyone who has anything to donate can send their items to these stores. The store then sells these items, and with the profit, Habitat for Humanity can buy materials needed for homes such as bricks, shingles, sheet rock, tools, and other items necessary for construction.
The biggest expense for building a home is labor. Collins said the help of volunteers, both experienced and inexperienced, contribute to the success of watching the cost of labor for building a house.
Tiffany Matthews, a Tech alumna, received her degree in structural engineering and architecture in May 2017. She is now an architectural intern for Habitat for Humanity and began working on this home in July.
“This is for some experience and to get my foot in the door,” Matthews said.
With hundreds of volunteers, not all of them are Tech students. Many come from churches, corporate sponsors, banks or even individuals who have taken interest.
Ron West, a retired citizen in Lubbock, has volunteered with Habitat for Humanity for three years.
“Men and women of all ages, we get out there and build homes,” West said.
For a lot of specialized areas such as electric, air conditioning, plumbing and the laying of cement, West said subcontractors will often volunteer or Habitat for Humanity will hire a company to do the job professionally.
“But as far as constructing the walls out of wood and standing them up, we do that,” West said.
Tohi Betenbough, the construction coordinator for this new home, has been working on it for two months. Betenbough oversees all the construction aspects such as picking up tools, materials, coordinating and organizing subcontractors and overseeing any volunteers.
Betenbough said it takes about a year for Habitat to finish homes. Her family builds homes in the Lubbock area, and she was referred to work on this new home a couple of months ago.
“(The family) is great,” she said. “All of the homeowners are great. They’re excited about a new home, they’ve been working with us and now we’re getting down to the last stuff, the fun stuff.”