Making housing a habit

Redwood River Habitat for Humanity had a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday for a new house to be built in August

Photo by Karin Elton From left: Tara Onken, economic development director; Redwood River Habitat for Humanity recipients Andrea Cayo and Clawsondy Cayo and Jett Wing, family friend, use shovels Thursday morning to break ground on a new house to be built on Rainbow Drive in Marshall. The house will be built next to another Habitat home which was built in 2017.

MARSHALL — Rainbow Drive in Marshall will soon be welcoming a new addition to the neighborhood.

The lot is picked out, the mortgage is set and the first shovels of earth have been turned as of Thursday morning. Clawsondy and Andrea Cayo, with their new son, Samuel, will have a home of their own by fall, thanks to Redwood River Habitat for Humanity.

“We’ve never lived in an actual home before, it’s always been apartments,” said Andrea Cayo. “And to be able to give our firstborn a house, we’re just really excited.” She is a second-grade teacher at True Light Christian School.

“I’m very grateful and thankful for this opportunity, the way the community has been able to gather around and support us, to show us we are family,” said Clawsondy Cayo, who played football at Southwest Minnesota State University and is a personal trainer and works for REM. His mother, Soutan Bitard, and younger brother, Ryan Magloire, were at the groundbreaking ceremony as well, having traveled from Florida recently to see the new baby.

About 30 people gathered at the empty lot on Rainbow Drive to help the Cayos celebrate their soon-to-be-new home, including Mayor Bob Byrnes, Lyon County Administrator Loren Stomberg, Redwood River HFH board members, Marshall Area Chamber of Commerce personnel, and representatives from the USBank Foundation.

“This is our 19th house build,” said Charlie Sanow, the executive director for Redwood River HFH, which is a locally- run affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing organization. Redwood River HFH serves Lyon and Redwood counties. Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage.

“A lot of people have donated and helped — businesses and private citizens have given us a good chunk of money. The USBank Foundation has given $5,300 toward this house build. We don’t do it with grants so we build with the community, for the community.”

Another source of funding, in addition to principle payments from the 18 previous builds, Sanow said, is profits from the HFH ReStore, which is located on U.S. Highway 59 in Marshall. The ReStore sells new and gently used furniture, appliances, home goods, building materials and more.

“We have a ReStore you can shop at,” he said. “Last year a little over 120 tons of stuff would have gone to the landfill.”

He said Lyon County saves money by not having the excess building materials go into the landfill, and not having to expand it.

“We get a break because we are re-using stuff instead of sending it to the landfill, which is a good thing,” Sanow said.

The house, which will be built by volunteers and the Cayos in August, will be a 28-by-48-feet ranch-style house with three bedrooms. Well-established trees form a backdrop to the lot.

“It’s a wonderful thing to be able to do,” Sanow said.

The previous house on the lot was torn down and with a new one cropping up, the result will benefit not only the family involved, but the city of Marshall as well as Lyon County.

“This helps to revitalize the community,” Sanow said. “The city and county have worked together to get more houses in Marshall.”

Mayor Bob Byrnes expanded on that theme.

“Congratulations on your soon-to-be-new home. This is an important project,” he said. “If you look around this neighborhood there are a lot of new families that will be moving in. The city has an interest and the county and I know the business community has an interest in how can we attract and retain families like yours to the community? One of the reasons people move to the community is because there’s a job, but they also need the other things like healthcare and education. You also need quality housing that is stable and that’s what this provides.”

Tara Onken, the economic development director, told the Cayos that Marshall is a “great place to live, work, grow, raise a family. We’re really excited to have you guys live here and set roots here, build your family here.”

Lyon County Administrator Loren Stomberg said Lyon County appreciates the work of Habitat for Humanity because it helps create a stable workforce and increases the tax base.

“Home ownership promotes strong, self-reliant families and communities,” he said. “Lyon County supports projects like this that give families the ability to own a home. Habitat for Humanity makes a huge contribution to the family that purchases this home.”

Redwood River HFH board member Perry Penske of Extreme Panel Technologies said the house will be energy efficient, which will save heating costs.

“In this house we’re putting in a 15,000 BTU furnace,” Penske said. “A normal house has 60,000 to 100,000, 120,000, BTUs so we have this thing so dialed down, we can utilize one of these really small furnaces.”

Penske pointed at a nearby 48-quart cooler and said “we have a furnace going in that’s a little bigger than this cooler.”

Penske said the new house will have a low energy rating score.

“We will have a home energy rating score of hopefully in the 30s and maybe 40s,” he said. “The average house is 60 to 100. It’s very good technology and it’s going to give you a great house.”