One of the longest-staying veterans at Jackson Street Commons soon will open up his spot at the shelter for another veteran as he’ll be moving out, thanks to Habitat for Humanity.
Kevin Dyer, a Marine Corps veteran, recently inked a covenant agreement with Habitat for Humanity after his application was accepted, and he completed the required 250 sweat equity hours. Now, Dyer is second in line to have a house built.
“It feels great, really great to have this happening … I think they do a good job, and they’ve got some great people working there,” said Dyer about Habitat for Humanity.
Dyer’s struggles with homelessness started in 2008 when he lost his home because of nonpayment of mortgage. He went to live with friends and relatives before going to the Kokomo Rescue Mission in late 2013 where he stayed for nearly six months.
At that time, Jackson Street Commons, the area’s first homeless shelter for veterans, was under construction, and Dyer was eager to get a bed. Dyer said he would call the shelter almost every day, asking if they were ready to open yet.
Because of construction delays due to bad weather, the shelter opened later than expected, in May 2014, but Dyer had a bed with his name on it. The veteran moved in the first week Jackson Street Commons opened, and he’s been there since.
Angie Ciski, director of Jackson Street Commons, said Dyer has been “a blessing” to the shelter and that it’s “bittersweet” that he’ll be leaving.
“We couldn’t be more happy for Kevin that he has this opportunity to be a homeowner and to partner with Habitat for Humanity. It’s a great program, and he’s a very deserving person,” she said. “It’s bittersweet to us because he’s been a blessing for us, but we’re really happy for him.”
Dyer’s application was accepted late last spring, and in the time since, he’s been working every Saturday on other Howard County Habitat for Humanity builds, as required by the nonprofit. That requirement, Dyer said, has been welcomed, and he’s put in more hours than needed.
Once he hit the 250-hour mark, he was able to sign his agreement with the nonprofit and choose the location of his future home, which will sit on Diamond Street.
Now, Dyer is required to volunteer 12 hours per month until his home is built, and he’s having fun doing it.
“We only work on Saturdays, so I can’t wait for Saturdays to get here,” said Dyer. “It feels great, really great to be able to do that, and it’s very enjoyable building houses and seeing how you go about doing it. And then you can wake up in your house and say, ‘Hey, I helped do this.’”
On average, Habitat for Humanity builds one to two homes in Howard County a year. With more volunteers, more can be built. That’s why, in part, Dyer puts in more than the required hours. The sooner the current houses are done, the sooner his will be done.
“I put in more (hours) for two reasons. One, I enjoy it. Second one, we don’t have many volunteers, so the more people come out there and work the faster these houses get built,” he said.
Dyer’s home will be a three-bedroom, two-bathroom 1,100-square-foot home. The lot he selected, he said, will be perfect for his six grandchildren. While he said he’s enjoyed his apartment at Jackson Street Commons for the past nearly six years, he’s ready to have more space for family.
For information on how to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, call 765-452-2185.