HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — Lakeshore Habitat for Humanity is helping make the dream of owning a home a reality for a veteran in Holland.

Crews of volunteers kicked off the veterans’ build Tuesday morning in the Vista Green subdivision near 36th Street and Washington Avenue. The group was made up almost entirely of veterans.

“It’s the idea of bringing local veterans together to form community but also to serve veterans in the community that might be in need of homeownership or critical home repair,” Dave Rozman, Habitat’s senior development director, said. “We’ve gotten a great response. We have over 80 veterans that are signed up this week. Those are local businesses that are veteran-owned as well as nonprofits that serve veterans that jumped right on board and said yes, how can we help.”

Jennifer Gradnigo, who served in Iraq while in the U.S. Army Reserves, was among those who answered the call to help another veteran.

“For me, putting a veteran in a home just means the world,” Gradnigo said. “They’ve served our country and when they come back and they don’t have something to call their own, it can be tough. And we also have an incredible veteran homeless program in our country, in our state, in our community.”

She said completing this mission is something the community and veterans call all rally around.

“I think all veterans … we want to help and we know teamwork, so we know who’s in charge and then we all pitch in to help,” Gradnigo said.

Rozman said the need for affordable housing is growing and veterans are group of the population with a high need.

“In 2022, we had over 500 interest forms filled out for our program, even though we were only building about 10 to 15 homes in the next year. For Ottawa County, there’s a need for over 5,000 homes at the affordable range and there’s not a lot of builders that are building at that,” Rozman said.

Habitat clients go through an application process. They must be employed and take a financial literacy class.

“They have to do 250 hours (of) what we call sweat equity, volunteering on their own home but also others’ homes as well as at our ReStore. And at the end of the day when the home is done, we actually originate a mortgage to them that’s a 0% interest rate mortgage that will never be more than 29% of their income,” Rozman said.

The home that veterans started on Tuesday is expected to be completed in about six months.