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Helena family gets Habitat For Humanity home - KXLH.com | Helena, Montana

Helena family gets Habitat For Humanity home

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Raymond and Holly Bixby have been applying to Helena Area Habitat for Humanity since 2015, looking for a house for themselves and their five children. After being turned down twice, they finally qualified earlier this year. On Tuesday, they received the keys to a home on Billings Avenue.

“It’s great to be able to have a foundation, where we can just start growing and keep moving on in our lives,” Raymond Bixby said.

“It’s a relief and kind of a new beginning, being homeowners,” said Holly Bixby. “A feeling of stability, especially for our kids and the ones with special needs, that they’ll always have a home and won’t have to worry about moving from place to place. Something that’s ours.”

The Bixby family’s new home was originally built several years ago. Habitat for Humanity fully refurbished it after the family that previously lived there moved away. More than 100 volunteers provided almost 900 hours of labor.

The family themselves also has to make a commitment. The Bixbys took first-time homeowners’ and budgeting classes, and they spent 500 hours working on the house.

“That’s really their down payment in their home, the sweat equity,” said Jacob Kuntz, executive director of Helena Area Habitat for Humanity.

During Tuesday’s ceremony, Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney presented the family with a hammer, as a symbol of what they put into the house.

“Take this hammer, think of what you’ve done, and be proud, and let it help you grow a fabulous future that you have worked so hard to begin today,” said Cooney.

Kuntz said successes like this can only come about through partnerships among organizations – both nonprofits and businesses. The Bixby family had previously received temporary housing and support from Family Promise and the Helena Housing Authority. Power Townsend sponsored the construction work on their home.

“This is just an example, this particular project, of organizations working together to try to find a family a permanent housing solution,” said Kuntz.

Kuntz said the need for affordable housing in Helena is only increasing, but there are fewer organizations providing it than in many Montana cities. So, Habitat is stepping up its efforts. Until now, they have only built one or two homes a year. In 2018, they’re planning five. They’re also expanding a program to help existing homeowners make repairs they couldn’t otherwise afford.

Raymond and Holly Bixby will continue to be part of those efforts. Both have taken jobs working for Habitat, Holly as an administrative assistant and Raymond at the Habitat ReStore.

Now, the family has a message for others working for homes of their own.

“Just don’t give up,” said Holly Bixby. “Don’t give up.”

Habitat for Humanity has completed 32 homes in Helena since 1992.

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