Thanks to Habitat Crawfords are home for the holidays

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 30, 2002

A year ago life looked bleak for Laura Crawford and her three children, Jeff, 14, Brian,10 and Robin, 7.

Sunday, December 30, 2001

A year ago life looked bleak for Laura Crawford and her three children, Jeff, 14, Brian,10 and Robin, 7.

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Crawford was newly divorced. She had no place to live and no vehicle to drive because her husband had gotten the house and two cars in their divorce settlement. Crawford and her children moved in with her sister, her sister’s husband husband and their child into a trailer.

Her brother-in-law’s two children moved in a month after Crawford. Nine people were crowded into a two-bedroom trailer. The trailer was in rough condition and keeping it heated was difficult. Crawford wanted something better for her family so she submitted an application for a home through Habitat for Humanity.

"I signed up last December and I was on a waiting list. Terry Judd, a committee member for Habitat for Humanity let me know right away there was a chance for me to get a house built. I kept going to their meetings and things looked good for me," said Crawford.

Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit ecumenical Christian housing ministry. Their mission is to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness from the world, and to make decent shelter a matter of conscience and action.

Families in need of decent shelter, like Crawford apply to local Habitat agencies. The agency’s committee chooses homeowners based on their level of need, their willingness to become partners in the program and their ability to repay the low-interest loan that is used to build the habitat house.

Habitat is not a give-a-way program. In addition to a down payment, and the monthly mortgage payments, homeowners invest hundreds of hours of their own labor ‘sweat equity’ into building their Habitat house and the houses of others.

Crawford had a job working at Schweigert Meats in Albert Lea. In no state in the United States does a full-time minimum wage job cover the costs of a one-bedroom unit at fair market rent.

In 45 states and the District of Columbia, families would need to earn at least double the minimum wage to afford a two-bedroom unit at fair market rent. There are few shelters in rural areas such as southern Minnesota. So often, when families go through a crisis such as the Crawfords, they end up in over-crowded housing.

Crawford was selected by the Habitat for Humanity committee and work on her new house began last July. Crawford put in more than the 250 sweat equity hours to build her house. According to Connie Smith of Habitat for Humanity, Crawford put in over 400 hours of sweat equity, to build her house.

Crawford’s father and brother have helped her on her house. Her new home is located next to an open field with large oak trees surrounding it. Her ten-year-old son, Bryan, was so excited when the house was being built that, with the left over scraps of wood, he built a tree fort behind the house.

Crawford said, "The whole attitude of my kids changed when we started working on this house. They were so excited. I couldn’t get Bryan to help with the house he was so excited about having a fort. He and his friends built it."

The biggest chore with building the house according to Crawford was the mudding and taping of the sheetrock. Bailey Electric of Albert Lea did the electric work for the house.

The house has four bedrooms, a full bathroom and another bathroom will be built in be the basement. The basement is not finished off yet. The family moved in right after Thanksgiving. The family has become closer and happier with the move into their new home.

"My money was running short before I moved in. I had to borrow money for the closing costs. A friend of mine helped me out. She told me that God was with me on this project," said Crawford.

Crawford is overwhelmed with all the kindness and help her family has gotten. Sorenson’s Appliance and TV from Geneva donated a washing machine. Pegasus Satellite donated a satellite dish for a year with a fee of only $10-a-month. Slumberland Furniture donated three new mattresses for her children.

"I will be participating in homes being built for Habitat in the area now. I will be at their meetings and help with the committee. This house is a second chance for a new life after my divorce. I enjoyed working on the house a lot," Crawford said.

Crawford currently works at Crest Services in Albert Lea. Now that she has her new home, she will be working towards furnishing it.

"We love living out here. I knew some of the neighbors before we moved here. The kids are within walking distance to school and there is a park down the street. We are pretty well set," she said.

Call Sheila Donnelly at 434-2214 or e-mail her at