Habitat for Humanity aims to build affordable, safe housing

Evert Nelson | Collegian Various members from Habitat for Humanity discuss details about future events and other organizational information after their meeting in the North area of the food court in the K-State Student Union on Tuesday night.

There are many student organizations that aim to serve both the Manhattan and K-State communities, including the Manhattan chapter of Habitat for Humanity. The organization aims to utilize community and student volunteers to build houses for the less fortunate.

“Habitat for Humanity aims to eliminate substandard housing that may be dangerous, unsafe or hazardous to people’s health,” said Dan Weisenberger, treasurer for Habitat for Humanity and sophomore in architectural engineering. “Not all people have access to affordable housing. There are some people in the community who don’t have the resources to get their housing; this organization puts them in a house.”

Weisenberger said Habitat for Humanity doesn’t just give away free houses, which is often a misconception about the organization. Habitat for Humanity requires families or people applying for houses to meet a certain economic requirement. The people who will be receiving the house also must agree to a sweat equity, which means the people or families have to put in several hundred hours of work into the houses that are being built.

Since the organization’s original founding in 1996, the group has helped complete more than 25 houses within the Manhattan community. The group dissipated in 2007, but re-formed in 2011.

“Once you get here and are a part of this organization you become a part of the community,” said Katie Mackinnon, vice president of Habitat for Humanity and sophomore in biology. “Being a part of this organization is more than someone could ever learn in a class.”

A lesser-known component of Habitat for Humanity is the Habitat Re-Store, located at 2711 Amherst Ave. The Habitat Re-Store sells home appliances, furniture and building materials at a discounted price.

This store is open to the public, and all the available materials and items within the store were donated by community members. All the proceeds go back to Habitat for Humanity in Manhattan, helping to pay for the costs of running the group and construction costs.

“The Habitat Re-Store is like if Home Depot and the Salvation Army had a baby. That baby would be this store,” Weisenberger said. “I was pulled into the organization through volunteering at this store. My love of cheap things brought me into the store originally, then I began volunteering there. There was a group of college volunteers working at the Habitat Re-Store who wanted to recharter the Habitat for Humanity group at K-State. So, we did.”

Taylor Middleton, president of Habitat for Humanity and sophomore in marketing, said she wanted to get involved with the Habitat for Humanity organization at K-State because she helped to build homes during her childhood.

Middleton said when she was in elementary school, around the time Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf coast, she and her family volunteered to build walls and other small pieces of new homes. Those pieces were then transported elsewhere for the actual construction of the house.

“The awareness was so beneficial for me,” Middleton said. “People who are willing to make a change will fit in perfect with this organization. Some of the benefits of this organization include leadership, getting involved in the community, heightened awareness of the sociological issues surrounding housing and creating solutions for those housing issues.”

Weisenberger said one of the most beneficial things about this organization has been the real and visible difference people are able to make.

“There is nothing more concrete than a house,” he said.

He also mentioned how when people leave Habitat for Humanity they are left with the reward of impacting their community.

“There are so many organizations wanting to make a difference in the community here,” Mackinnon said. “Students who want to put their energy into something beneficial for the community as a whole, well, this would be the perfect place for you. Habitat for Humanity is a good thing for all members who get involved.”