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Kahya Fox

Kahya Fox is executive director for Habitat for Humanity La Crosse Area.

Habitat for Humanity La Crosse Area is launching a landmark $1.6 million capital campaign Oct. 25, intended to increase the organization’s impact on local homeowners with additional builds and expanded Critical Care and ReStore programs.

Co-chaired by former Habitat board members the Rev. Kent Johnson, pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, and Brad Sturm, board chair of Coulee Bank, the All Hands In fundraising campaign will be funded through both private and business donations, with Habitat executive director Kahya Fox reaching out to potential donors during the silent phase of the campaign.

Fox hopes to have 70 to 80 percent of the funding secured by the launch date, with the remainder acquired by Dec. 31.

“This is our first capital campaign as an organization,” Fox said. “We’ve never gone to the community for large donations in 25 years. Buying the ReStore (in 2014) has let us take a step back and decide, ‘Where do we want to see ourselves in three to five years?’ Now that we have the building, we can concentrate on what we’re doing best and do more of it.”

The largest portion of funding, $700,000, will go toward paying off the mortgage on the ReStore, which will allow the $5,000 payment to go toward home building and repair projects.

Until last year, Habitat constructed one home per year, offering a zero interest mortgage to the occupant, with the homeowner responsible for property taxes, home insurance and closing fees.

Four homes are now under construction, and, using $600,000 in funding, All Hands In will increase that number to six homes each year by 2020.

There are already applications from 15 families for a Habitat home, and 100 qualified families are on the waiting list.

The demand is attributed to increased percentages of both low-income homeowners and renters with insufficient housing. With 66 percent of local homes built before 1940, costly repairs and upkeep are also a factor.

“The capital campaign is the pivotal piece in making six homes happen,” Fox said.

In addition, $100,000 in funding will go toward enhancement of the Critical Repair program, which assists homeowners in making crucial repairs to ensure their dwelling is safe and up to code. Currently, five homes annually are assisted through the program, with a goal of 25.

Habitat hopes to increase the collection through the ReStore program, which salvages usable materials from demolished homes and businesses to sell at the ReStore, from nine to 20 tons annually. All Hands In will dedicate $200,000 to the program, which is anticipated to boost ReStore profits by 10 to 20 percent.

All Hands In will also encompass the ReNew Neighborhood Revitalization program, through which Habitat assists with improvements to 30 homes each year. Habitat plans to double that through the campaign.

Pastor Kent, who has worked with Habitat for three decades, including serving three years on the La Crosse board, calls Habitat for Humanity “one of the best programs I know for breaking the cycle of poverty by making the dream of home ownership a reality for hard-working people in our community.”

Sturm, who has supported and served on boards for several nonprofit organizations, is inspired by Habitat’s record of zero foreclosures on the 44 homes built in La Crosse during the years.

Sturm calls working on All Hands In an honor, noting, “I know the success of this campaign will be a direct reflection of the generous culture of giving that is the 7 Rivers region. ... Habitat is one of those programs where you can see the direct results of your generosity, not only in the physical completed home, but in how you impact the lives of a local family who are offered a hand up.”

The official kickoff of All Hands In is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 25, at Colgan Air, with more details to be announced in the coming weeks. Fox is excited by the early support for the campaign, and hopes for a turnout of 500 or more at the launch.

“Everyone is invited. We’re going to share our successes and encourage people to help us get to the finish line with their donations,” Fox said.

To contribute to All Hands In, call Kahya Fox at 608-797-8086. For more information and updates, or click here.

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Emily Pyrek can be reached at emily.pyrek@lee.net.

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General assignment reporter

Emily Pyrek covers human interest stories, local events and anything involving dogs for the La Crosse Tribune. She is always interested in story ideas and can be contacted at emily.pyrek@lee.net.

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