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Retired U.S. Army Second Lieutenant Jean Belmont was recently able to get assistance from Northeast Habitat for Humanity, The East Texas Builders Association and Operation FINALLY HOME to establish a tiny home to live in.

Northeast Texas Habitat for Humanity recently announced the completion of a unique project. A cooperative effort between N.E. Texas Habitat, East Texas Builders Association, and Operation FINALLY HOME resulted in a new mortgage-free home for a military veteran.

N.E. Texas Habitat received an application for critical home repairs through their Veterans Repair program. The repair program corrects health and safety hazards in the homes of military veterans across three counties. When Habitat visited the Upshur County home of retired U.S. Army Second Lieutenant Jean Belmont, they found that the need far exceeded the grant-based program’s standard repair budget.

Belmont lived in a small pre-fab building on land she purchased several years earlier, hoping to make it into a home. But with limited funds and her time spent caring for her aging mother and others in her extended family, Belmont found little time to complete the project, and the little building was still a shell. The home had no electrical, water, or sewer infrastructure available and was missing road access into the property.

Nico Fourie, Habitat construction manager, said: “It was obvious that this was a full-on construction project, not a repair. To meet our mission for safe, healthy, and affordable shelter, we needed to provide utility infrastructure and convert a raw storage building into a healthy home. There was no way that Habitat’s $15,000 per project budget could come close.”

Habitat reached out to its fellow members at East Texas Builders Association (ETBA) and Operation FINALLY HOME. Operation FINALLY HOME is a Texas-based nonprofit which provides mortgage-free homes and home modifications to wounded, ill, and injured military veterans, first responders, and widows of the fallen and their families.

The group quickly developed a plan.

Thanks to Operation FINALLY HOME and their partnership with Lowe’s, they provided an in-kind grant for materials. TBA coordinated its members to donate materials and services and provided a cash gift with funds raised from its 50 Guns in Fifty Minutes event. Habitat was the project’s manager and provided the infrastructure. The group learned that Jean’s neighbor, Robert, a veteran, needed sewer services and installed a septic system.

KK Mobbs Construction, a local construction company, specializing in building and excavation, stepped in and built a road to Jean’s property. Once the utility infrastructure was in place, the partners converted the shell into a home.

“Jean was there every single day, lending a hand and feeding the volunteers until we were done,” Fourie commented.

“This is an extraordinary situation, where faced with needs that far exceeded the repair definition, we were able to assemble a network of partners to provide two safer, healthier homes,” said LaJuan Gordon, CEO NE Texas Habitat. “The unmatched generosity of our community of partners has transformed the lives of two military veterans this spring.”

Several local businesses and contractors donated materials and services: Bartoo Construction, Cassidy Jones Lumber, FMC Construction, JMH Electric, Kelly Moore Paint, Robin Lyles, MAC transportation, McCoy’s Building Supplies, Moreland Propane, Phillips Flooring Center, Lowes, Sanchez Veliz Services, Upshur Rural Electric Co-op and The Habitat “Wednesday Crew.”

Northeast Texas Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit housing ministry dedicated to eradicating the devastating effects of poverty housing by partnering with the community to create safe and affordable homes. The organization serves Gregg, Harriso, and Upshur counties. Habitat assists in the areas of homeownership, home repair and operates a ReStore. Netxhabitat.org or 903-236-0900.

The East Texas Builders Association (ETBA) is a nonprofit trade association within the federation of the National Association of Home Builders and the Texas Association of Builders. ETBA supports quality and affordable housing by promoting and protecting home building and homeownership. easttexasbuilders.org or 903-758-6416

Operation FINALLY HOME provides mortgage-free homes and home modifications to wounded, ill, and injured military veterans, first responders, and widows of the fallen and their families in honor of their service and sacrifice to the country and community. Based in New Braunfels, Texas, Operation FINALLY HOME was established in 2005 as a non-partisan/nonprofit organization and has completed or is in the planning stages on more than 300 home projects in more than 31 states. Operation FINALLY HOME partners with corporate sponsors, builder associations, builders, remodelers, developers, individual contributors, and volunteers to help these heroes and their families by addressing one of their most pressing needs – a place to call home.

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