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Published April 24, 2009, 06:39 AM

No place like home

Heather Lindus, 29, and her husband, Ryan, 30, are not uneducated people. He has a degree in mechanical engineering and she has three degrees in Bible, psychology and sign language interpretation.

By: Tom Lindfors, New Richmond News

Heather Lindus, 29, and her husband, Ryan, 30, are not uneducated people.

He has a degree in mechanical engineering and she has three degrees in Bible, psychology and sign language interpretation.

To complete their family, they have a 1-year-old son named Cody.

Sound perfect?

Actually, the Lindus family became a statistic of the hard economic times a few years ago. They were living in a townhome in Hudson that had an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) – a mortgage loan where the interest rate is periodically adjusted due to a variety of criteria.

The ARM came due right about the time Ryan lost his job.

“We lost the place in Hudson and moved to Somerset, but then we found out we were pregnant,” Heather recalled.

The pregnancy was a surprise, as the couple was told earlier that they would not be able to have children.

After Cody was born, Heather stayed home and Ryan took a job at the Sportsman’s Warehouse in Woodbury. Seeking a lower rent, they moved to Hammond, then eventually Baldwin. They are now living in the lower level of a converted 1920s farmhouse – two bedrooms, one bath and no closets.

“Our kitchen table is in storage because we don’t have an eating area here,” Heather confessed. “Cody eats in his high chair; we eat on the couch.”

Throughout it all, they have been active members of the Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church in Afton, Minn. across the river from Hudson. It was a friend of theirs from church who first suggested they apply for help from St. Croix Valley Habitat for Humanity.

“We gave it a shot and were so surprised to get this because we thought there are so many more people who are deserving,” Heather said.

The Habitat for Humanity program is a local, non-profit Christian housing ministry in Pierce and St. Croix counties that is dedicated to helping people get decent, affordable homes.

According to their Web site (www.scvhabitat.org), families who apply for help are selected based on four criteria: need for adequate housing, ability to pay a SCV Habitat for Humanity mortgage, ability to pay real estate taxes, ability to pay homeowners insurance.

“The selection committee made the decision where to place us,” Heather said. “Since we don’t have any kids in school yet, we were very open about where to go. They decided the New Richmond site would be the best – I love their downtown.”

Heather said they were allowed to select a floor plan and colors for their future house. A groundbreaking ceremony was held on the site Sunday, April 19, at 2 p.m.

Despite a steady rain, about 30 people attended the event.

Ryan Lindus read a short letter as part of the short ceremony. Fighting back tears, he thanked everyone for their support and pledges of help.

He said the family’s story is one that proves people can do anything with God’s help, if they put their trust in the Lord. Ryan shared a Bible verse for those assembled, as did others who were in attendance.

Debbie Murtha, office coordinator for St. Croix Valley Habitat for Humanity, said that the construction on the two-bedroom, split-level house will not begin until June. Volunteers will be building the home under the supervision of licensed contractors for the plumbing, heating and electrical work.

“We have a construction supervisor, Joel Palmquist, who oversees the construction of the homes, along with the site supervisors who will be on site when volunteers are there,” Murtha explained.

As far as materials, several local businesses are making donations. Andersen Windows is donating all the windows, Kohler is supplying the plumbing fixtures, Yale Locks is donating the locksets, Whirlpool Corporation is supplying a refrigerator and stove, and Schneider Electric (of Mechanicsburg, Pa.) is supplying the electrical panels and circuits.

“We try to buy as many materials as possible from local suppliers,” Murtha said. “We usually get more donations of materials as the project goes on too.”

The house will be in the New Richmond city limits off 140th Street. The Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church has already scheduled “work weeks” where at least 20 congregation members will volunteer each week of construction. All volunteers who work on site must be 18 years of age or older or at least 16 years old with parental permission forms.

To help out with the project, visit the St. Croix Valley Habitat for Humanity Web site or call 715-425-5623 for their River Falls office.

“We are hoping we can move in by the end of the year,” Heather said. “We’re excited to get started; this will be our first house.”

The Lindus house is the first Habitat for Humanity home being constructed in the community. Plans call for up to six more to be built over the coming years in New Richmond.

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