DuPage Habitat for Humanity building affordable housing in Hanover Park

 
By Isabella Murray
imurray@dailyherald.com
Updated 7/27/2018 8:06 PM
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Construction is set to start next month on a 27-unit affordable townhouse development in the Greenbrook Tanglewood neighborhood of Hanover Park.

DuPage Habitat for Humanity, an organization that uses volunteers, sponsorships and grants to cut the cost of homeownership for qualifying families, is leading the project.

Director Dave Neary said $6 million to $8 million will go into the development over four to six years. The project is one part of the organization's neighborhood revitalization program in Greenbrook Tanglewood.

"While this development is 27 units, it's part of a much larger and comprehensive attempt to engage the entire surrounding community in different areas around neighborhood revitalization," Neary said.

Around three years ago, Neary said he and his team scoured DuPage County for a neighborhood that could benefit from the program. He said they weren't looking for just a needy neighborhood but one with ample community involvement so the program could be sustained after help was provided.

Greenbrook Tanglewood was selected after community meetings involving the organization, the village, several schools in the area and community members, Neary said.

"We're facilitators in a project like this, but our deal is that we're willing to make a significant investment within that community if they are, too," he said.

The work will be on a street named Court J, a section of the neighborhood separated from the formal Greenbrook Tanglewood subdivision by the west branch of the DuPage River.

Several cleanup efforts updated the exteriors of 15 existing units in Court J. DuPage Habitat for Humanity purchased the remaining 23 Court J lots for the new townhouses. Equaling about 4.5 acres, reconfiguration of the 23 purchased lots will allow for the 27 new townhouses on Court J.

Recipients of these homes have to meet DuPage Habitat for Humanity homeowner requirements and are considered through a rolling application process.

Becoming a DuPage Habitat for Humanity homeowner isn't a slight task, however.

Applicants have to be able to earn an income sufficient to pay an affordable mortgage, property taxes and utilities. They need to invest 250 "sweat equity" hours in building their own home and another future homeowner's home. Ane they need to participate in finance, budgeting and basic home repair classes, among other requirements.

The reward is a home bought at market price with an affordable mortgage, which is 30 percent of a family's income or less. DuPage Habitat for Humanity often takes out a second mortgage to cover any expenses not covered by that 30 percent.

"This is an ongoing type of investment for human beings that is a great contribution to the community at large," said James Slater, president of the board of directors of the Greenbrook Tanglewood Homeowners Association Inc. Because Court J isn't in the Greenbrook Tanglewood subdivision, it is not part of the homeowners association.

DuPage Habitat for Humanity recently provided a $35,000 grant in the main subdivision for security cameras. Other projects like literacy programs, school cleanups and landscaping projects exist in both areas.

Hanover Park Director of Community and Economic Development Shubhra Govind said the new construction will improve the value of nearby homes and create new community amenities.

"It's really at the forefront for the village to see this neighborhood be transformed into its full potential as having a vibrant and well-maintained community," Govind said.

Village officials, who approved the preliminary plat for the new Court J townhouses at a board meeting July 19, support the accountability that DuPage Habitat for Humanity requires from its homeowners.

"The cool thing about Habitat is that they come in and approve, sell and build the homes, but it creates a sense of community and a sense of leadership," village Clerk Eira Corral Sepúlveda said.

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