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Family chosen for Habitat home

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By the end if the year, the Barnett family should have a new home. A home with the help of Habitat for Humanity.

Alfred and Lily Barnett -- along with their children Ebony Barnett, 15, Houston Moorman, 14, Shanell Roberson, 13, Dominique Barnett, 12, and Jasmine Roberson, 11 -- were selected last week to receive a new place to live. Along with the family, Pamela Barnett, Alfred's mother, stays with the family during the day.

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"The first thing, it is a blessing," Alfred Barnett said. "Second, I'm thankful for a program that helps out needy families."

"First reaction -- crying, excited, really excited," Houston added.

He's equally as excited as his parents because now he will finally have a bedroom of his own.

In September, Habitat put out the word, looking for families in need of better housing. They received seven or eight applications, and then the decisions started.

There are three criteria Habitat looks for in their qualifying family.

n A need based on overcrowding or the physical condition of the home.

"A major factor with this family was overcrowding," said Brian Smith, president of Habitat for Humanity of Detroit Lakes.

n The willingness to participate in the project. Each adult in the household must commit 250 hours of sweat equity to building the home.

n Ability to pay back the loan for the house. The homes families receive from Habitat aren't free. Habitat holds the loan on the house, and the families must pay it back at a reasonable rate, interest free.

"Donations of materials and lot determines the cost of the home," said Barb Thomsen, Habitat board of directors.

When it comes to designing the house, the family will have some input, but the house will be simple, decent and affordable. The Barnetts' house will be a four bedroom.

"Habitat waits on the design until the family is chosen," Thomsen said.

"(Deciding on) the family is the first step," Smith agreed.

When it came to selection time, Smith and Thomsen agreed it was a difficult decision. The board had narrowed the decision to four, and then felt the Barnetts met all the qualifying factors.

"It's a difficult choice," Thomsen said.

"When you're saying yes to one (family), you're saying no to the others," said Bernie Rodseth, who is on the family selection committee for Habitat, along with Thomsen.

When paying back the loan on the house, that money goes full circle to provide a house for the next family chosen. Habitat has been in Detroit Lakes for 10 years, and this is the fourth house it has built.

Habitat has partnered with Coldwell Banks this year. Coldwell set a goal to build 100 homes nationwide for its 100th anniversary. One of those homes is the Barnett's home.

The Barnetts have lived in the Becker County area -- splitting time between Frazee and Detroit Lakes -- for six years. Lily Barnett's sister lived in the area, and the Barnetts liked the area when they came to visit.

So, they moved from their Minneapolis residence.

"It's a lot easier to raise kids here," Alfred Barnett said.

Habitat plans to break ground for the home this spring and have it finished by the end of the year. The organization is still looking for property in Detroit Lakes for the home.

"It's like winning the $500,000 sweepstakes, only better," Pamela Barnett said.

To help support Habitat, for the second year, the Chef's Gala is Thursday, March 2, from 6:30 to 9 p.m. in the Holiday Inn.

Come sample tastes from several local chefs. There will also be a live and silent auction for a variety of getaway packages, hotel stays, tickets and travel themed gift baskets. The evening will include entertainment by Tim Eggebratten.

If anyone is interested in donating land, helping build the house or being a part of Habitat, call Solutions at 844-4332 or visit www.habitatofdl.org.

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