Homes for Iowa Inc. house rolls into Perry

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Skirting power poles and power lines, a prefabricated house was moved to Perry Thursday afternoon, ready made for setting on the Habitat for Humanity of Dallas County foundation at North and Vine streets in Perry.

The house is the first to be built through a partnership of Habitat for Humanity with the Iowa Department of Corrections, Iowa Prison Industries and Homes for Iowa Inc. The dwelling was built using prison labor in a program that provides inmates with an allowance while teaching them a valuable trade skill and even certified apprenticeship credit.

“In Iowa, we believe in second chances and building futures,” Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said at the groundbreaking for the program’s first home last summer in Marshalltown. “Homes for Iowa is a common-sense solution that will close the housing gap in rural Iowa while bringing a new pool of talent to the workforce and open doors for Iowans on the road to redemption.”

The prefab unit was transported to Perry by Marshalltown-based Ferneau and Sons House Moving and Raising LLC in a delicate operation that proceeded to Perry from the north on First Avenue and then eastward on Park Street, southward on Eighth Street and eastward on North Street to the Habitat for Humanity lot on the southeast corner of North and Vine streets.

Perry Public Works Department staffers Alan Kelleher and Matt “Fizz” Van Pelt removed a stop sign at the corner in order to make way for the incoming housing unit.

Homes for Iowa Inc. is a nonprofit corporation formed in 2019. Its mission lies partly in providing low-cost, quality homes to low-income families in housing-starved areas around the state and partly in empowering prisoners with marketable job skills. The high-quality homes are constructed at a significantly reduced cost to the buyer due to the prison labor.

The Iowa Prison Industries program provides an allowance for inmates who participate that is garnished to help pay for outstanding victim restitution and court fines and fees. It also allows inmates to take part in the U.S. Department of Labor’s certified apprenticeship programs in plumbing, electrical, carpentry and general labor.

The first four Homes for Iowa Inc. houses were built in Marshalltown in the wake of last spring’s tornado. The Perry house is the first to be built in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas County. The program aims to build 18 homes in 2020 and 36 in 2021.

Anyone interested in applying to purchase the new home should visit the Habitat for Humanity of Dallas County website to get started.

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