June 25, 2022

Habitat for Humanity builds 20 years in Creston

If the sound of power tools and hammers are in the neighborhood, chances are it’s the next Habitat for Humanity House in Creston.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the national organization’s chapter in Creston.

“We need houses,” said Charlie Westman, president of the Creston club. “We have houses in this town that have done their duty. It’s time to recharge.”

Habitat for Humanity builds homes around the world in partnership with families in need of a place to live. Habitat homebuyers help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage. There are 11 Habitat houses in Creston.

The Creston chapter started in 2002 spearhead by Pastor Perry Torso of Salem Lutheran Church. His goal was for Creston to provide housing for lower income people who were unable to to acquire traditional financing from banks. Don Butler, a retired high school industrial arts teacher, was the chairman of the first building committee and drew the plans. The first committee built most of the first house during the winter of 2003 in a building on South Elm Street owned by Jack Bakerink. Arlan Biere started volunteering and served on the board.

“Arlan has helped to build 11 of the houses so far and also helped to build many handicap accessibility projects like ramps, door widening and things like that,” Westman said.

Habitat funds the houses with a combination of grants and private donations.

The Creston group is building a home at 509 S. Maple for a single mother. The house is about 1,100 square feet with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Construction of the house is assisted by Southwestern Community College building trade students.

“The plans we have been using is a ranch style,” Westman said. “The house will be very energy efficient and have a maintenance free exterior.”

Home designs are intended to make the family comfortable.

“They are built to the fit the family,” Westman said. He said three to five families typically apply to be a Habitat home owner. The applicants must fit income guidelines to be considered.

On top of paying a monthly mortgage for 20 years, that fits her income, she will contribute 200 volunteer hours toward construction of the house.

“That could be things like painting, preparing the landscaping or other ways,” he said.

Westman said the 12th house, planned for 616 N. Walnut, will cost about $90,000 but be valued at about $120,000 when complete. Payments are expected to be $700 a month for 20 years. Habitat does not charge interest and the down payment is the first year’s insurance.

For more information about Creston’s chapter, or to apply for a future home, call (641) 344-8032 or online at unionhfh.org.

John Van Nostrand


An Iowa native, John's newspaper career has mostly been in small-town weeklies from the Rocky Mountains to the Mississippi River. He first stint in Creston was from 2002 to 2005.