Six new families buy Habitat for Humanity homes in WoodburyFor seven years Daniel Nigatu and Desta Tamene have been living in a one-bedroom apartment in St. Paul with their children.
By: Riham Feshir, Woodbury Bulletin
For seven years Daniel Nigatu and Desta Tamene have been living in a one-bedroom apartment in St. Paul with their children.
After being crammed in the same place as their family grew, they finally get to have a home to call their own.
The family of six was one of six who will move into six new townhomes just completed at the Garden Gate development in Woodbury.
Nigatu learned about Habitat from a friend who went through the same process and was able to buy an affordable home.
He applied but wasn’t qualified right away. There were others ahead of him who had bigger families and needed immediate assistance, he said.
At that time, Nigatu’s 18-year-old daughter hadn’t moved to the United States from Ethiopia yet, and he and his wife only had two other children.
Then Nigatu’s family quickly grew when his daughter moved to the U.S. two years ago and they had a baby girl last year.
When he applied again, he got to choose from a list of homes in different cities. He picked Woodbury.
“It’s good to live and for schools and everything,” Nigatu said.
It took almost a year for him to find out if he got a house or not, he said.
Then when he heard the good news, he said, “I didn’t believe it.”
Nigatu and his family closed on the three-bedroom house Thursday without having to worry about paying any interest at all.
“They pay based on their income,” said Matt Haugen, communications manager for Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity. “They’re not paying more than 30 percent toward housing.”
The big difference between conventional financing and Habitat financing is the 0 percent, 30-year fixed interest rate.
Typical monthly payments are between $600 to $800, Haugen said.
Habitat takes on the responsibility of the difference in value when the assessed value of the home is more than what homeowners are actually paying over time.
If homeowners decide to stay in the home once the loan period is up, the remainder is forgiven. If they decide to leave after just a few years, Habitat buys back the homes and sells them to other families.
“Families don’t get rich by buying Habitat homes and selling them on the market for a lot more than what they bought them for,” Haugen said.
Nigatu said he tried finding a house on his own, but he could only afford ones for less than $100,000 with interest.
“But at that time the houses were no good,” he said.
Nigatu and the other families celebrated the dedication of the new townhomes at Garden Gate Saturday, March 24 with U.S. Sen. Al Franken, city officials and Habitat for Humanity representatives.
Habitat for Humanity began working with the City of Woodbury in the late 1990s, building the first homes along Courtly Place near Interstate 494.
The organization then built extensively in the Bailey’s Arbor Development along Cherry Lane and Hazel Trail before starting work on Garden Gate.
Sixteen homes have been built so far at Garden Gate, with the last six being built over the past year.
So far a total of 53 homes have been built in Woodbury, more than any other Twin Cities suburb, Haugen said.
“The city is just a really good partner with us,” he said, adding that the city has helped the organization find open land with the potential for multi-family and mixed income level housing.
“We fill in those holes and have been able to grab those parcels and do multi-unit projects,” Haugen said.
Habitat for Humanity plans to finish a total of 24 homes in the Garden Gate development by early 2014.