Habitat looks beyond building homes

Changes due include a bigger retail store.The nonprofit is refocusing its mission.

Habitat for Humanity of Miami County is working quietly behind the scenes to expand its mission and the number of families it touches.

“Our mission is not necessarily how many houses did we build, but how many families did we serve through programs, working with other nonprofits,” said Bill Horstman, the county’s habitat executive director since January 2013.

Although relatively new to the director’s job, the longtime businessman/consultant had served on the habitat board for nine years before assuming the director’s role. His goals, he said, included bringing new energy to the organization.

In its more than 20 years, Habitat for Humanity of Miami County has helped nearly 50 families move into a new home that they, along with volunteers, helped build. The families pay a mortgage, with four mortgages paid in full so far.

Horstman said as habitat director he’s basically running five businesses.

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They include a construction company for the habitat homes along with the A Brush With Kindness program. The kindness program handles smaller exterior improvements such as handicapped ramps, painting and critical roof repairs to help homeowners struggling to maintain their homes.

There’s also the real estate company as the organization obtains land either by buying or other means and the social service task of working with other nonprofits to find qualified families demonstrating a need and willingness to invest sweat equity into a home.

A fourth business is serving as the bank. Horstman holds all mortgages and receives the monthly payments from families.

The fifth business is the ReStore retail operation that sells new and gently used building materials, home accessories and other items.

Area residents by next year should be shopping in an expanded ReStore. A search is under way for a larger store site because the existing location on Race Street has been maximized, said Horstman who attributed the store’s success to the efforts of manager Sharon McGill.

The existing business in some 5,000 square feet of space will do around $170,000 in business this year. The money goes toward staff salaries and the building projects as grants once received to help pay for projects have declined, Horstman said.

Hopes are to triple the size of the store to offer more items such as furniture and, in turn, increase the annual income. A market analysis pointed to the area near Interstate 75 on Troy’s west side as the best location for the new ReStore.

The Miami County habitat operation also is growing in size by taking over the mortgages and five families formerly served by Habitat for Humanity of Shelby County, which has disbanded.

For more information on Miami County Habitat for Humanity or to volunteer, call 937-332-3763 or visit www.hfhmco.org.

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