Revitalizing land vacant for more than a decade - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Revitalizing land vacant for more than a decade

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For the first time in nearly 15 years, there's a new purpose for land in the heart of one local city.

Family homes are being built on the site of the old Irving Elementary School in Waterloo.

The school closed in 2003 when the current Irving Elementary opened on West Fifth Street.

But this project is about more than just new housing. The fourteen homes on the lot are Habitat for Humanity homes, providing opportunities for a new start for Waterloo families.

Waterloo native, Bre Riley is one of the people looking for a new start.

The single mom is helping build the home she will soon buy for her and her four-year-old son.

"Right now I have butterflies in my stomach just waiting to see how my son is going to experience his new home," said Riley, thinking about the future she and her son will create there.

Riley's son is autistic, so the home will include a special sensory swing to help calm him.

"Since it is my first home and it is going to be, where I am going to be at. That is what is going to make my son comfortable. They had no problem adding one," said Riley.

Habitat for Humanity doesn't just give these homes to families. The families earn the homes through completing 300 hours of work and classes. Once completed, the families qualify to purchase the homes through a mortgage from the organization with zero interest.

"It is rewarding to see families help themselves, to do well for their families, and they are really teaching their children about hard work and financial responsibility all at the same time," said Lindsay Pieters with Habitat for Humanity.

The program giving a hand up to those who deserve it.

"Start off with nothing, and now you can actually really see the shape. It looks way bigger when they put the walls up," said Riley.

Habitat for Humanity is able to provide the homes at an affordable price thanks to donations and volunteers.

If you would like to volunteer or apply for a home:

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