With break, work, family gets a home

The family of six will soon be a family of eight.
WARREN -- Mounting household bills and six mouths to feed left the Louis Holbrook family struggling and looking for a break.
That break came recently when the Holbrooks found out they were approved to move into a one-story, three-bedroom home at 2237 Hamilton St., rehabilitated by Habitat for Humanity of Trumbull County.
A dedication ceremony today marked the official move-in of the family, which includes Louis; his wife, Carolyn; their kids Linda Holbrook, 4; Miranda Thorne, 8; Daisy Thorne, 7; and Wayne Thorne, 5; and their cats, Tom and Fuzzy.
Louis drives a truck for a living and said his approximate $350-a-week salary is tough to stretch. Carolyn isn't working at the moment because she's pregnant with twin boys who are expected in April.
Though the house isn't that big, Louis said there's enough room for now and the option is there to add on in the future.
Plus, he said, it's better than the home they lived in before, just a few streets away on Oak Street.
How this works: The Holbrooks saw Habitat for Humanity rehabilitating a house in their old neighborhood, inquired about the organization and was encouraged to apply.
They were approved after an interview and must complete 175 "sweat equity" hours on coming Habitat projects in Warren, a way of giving back to the community that's been there for them.
Habitat President George Sparacino said the Holbrooks were approved to move in because they demonstrated a commitment to improving their situation.
"These are responsible people," he said. "We're impressed with the way they budget." Habitat for Humanity International is a nonprofit, Christian housing ministry that tries to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness.
Sparacino said the houses are sold to families at no profit, financed with affordable, no-interest loans. The families' monthly mortgage payments are used to build more Habitat houses.
What's required: In addition to a down payment and the monthly mortgage, homeowners invest hundreds of hours of their own labor into building their house and the houses of others. Louis said a lot of hard work helped create the home they'll eventually own.
"I feel thankful that it happened," he said, explaining that someone else passed on Habitat's offer and "we took them up on it." The house also includes a bathroom, kitchen, living room and shed. One of the three bedrooms was an addition that Habitat made possible.
"I love it; it's great," Carolyn said.
Her husband said he plans to pass the word around that Habitat is a worthwhile organization that can help other families in his situation.
"It's a good crew," he added.

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