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story.lead_photo.caption Judy Avery, in the background, and John Madras, River City Habitat for Humanity Board of Directors members, were at 809 Jackson St. on Dec. 3 helping to repair damage to once again make it into a home. The two-unit apartment house was heavily damaged in the May tornado and was acquired by Habitat for Humanity to be made into a single-family home. Photo by Julie Smith / News Tribune.

Replacing homes that Jefferson City's May 22 tornado destroyed is going to take some time.

The city estimates it lost at least 150 housing units during the storm, including houses and apartments.

To help ease demand for housing, River City Habitat for Humanity intends to double its annual efforts in 2020 by holding a "Road to Recovery Blitz Build," the nonprofit announced Tuesday.

The blitz will involve building four homes in addition to the four to five it annually builds for limited-income families, as part of the recovery effort.

The nonprofit has identified locations for the new homes — 902 Jackson St., 914 Jackson St. and 415 E. Ashley St. (at the corner of Ashley and Jackson streets) — said Susan Cook-Williams, executive director of the local organization.

The address for the fourth home is also known, Cook-Williams said, but transfer of the property has not been completed.

"The four houses we are going to build are all here on Jackson Street," she said.

The organization is moving fast on the homes, she said. It made applications for the four homes available Tuesday. Call the organization at 573-635-8439 to find out more and to learn about a Dec. 14 information session it will hold concerning applications.

Applications will be due Jan. 10.

"We should know by the end of February which families are accepted," she said.

Foundations should be going in during March, Cook-Williams said. Ceremonies will be on the first day when crews are to be on-site, probably June 1.

The additional builds won't be cheap — about $400,000 total.

Habitat for Humanity has already started fundraising for the builds, she said. Because Habitat for Humanity is faith-based, it reached out to downtown faith partners for help starting to fund the projects. First Baptist, First Christian, First Methodist and First Presbyterian churches have each agreed to raise $20,000 for the builds.

Next, the organization will be reaching out to business partners for additional help.

And Thrivent Financial has awarded the Road to Recovery with a $60,000 grant, which will be used for one of the regular home builds, according to information the nonprofit provided.

The city has agreed to assist with the blitz. The home on Ashley Street is to be known as the "Mayor's Build," Cook-Williams said. The city will assist by demolishing the existing structure on the site. It has in the past used block grants to pay for demolition of old structures to make room for new. The city also helps with planning for the homes, she said.

Numerous volunteers will be necessary to complete the additional blitz builds. No matter what your abilities, call Habitat for Humanity to see how you might help.

Rather than working only two days a week (Tuesdays and Saturdays), which is the normal schedule for Habitat for Humanity builds, the blitz will involve efforts all week long.

That will help speed up the home-building process and give potential new homeowners much more opportunity to amass "sweat equity" in their homes — a requirement of the organization.

The nonprofit's board members put sweat equity into a build Tuesday, when they participated in hands-on work at a home at 809 Jackson St.

There is a movement to create a day of charitable giving at the beginning of the holiday season on the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving — known as Giving Tuesday.

Board members ran electrical wiring, framed openings for plumbing and heating and cooling duct work. The home is in the midst of being remodeled for a family. Habitat for Humanity recently received eight applications for the home and is reviewing them.

Four of the applicants lost homes during the tornado, Cook-Williams said.

She fielded questions as board members hammered on boards and sawed through old floor joists nearby.

"The new homes are all going to be close together. (The blitz) is going to do wonders for this street," Cook-Williams said.

Donna Brown, president of the organization's board, said she realized early on that working with hammers and power tools was not her skillset. But that's OK — no matter what skills someone offers, they may be able to help the organization, either as a committee member or helping with the Habitat for Humanity Restore at 1420 Creek Trail Drive.

"We wanted to dedicate today to giving back to the community by working on this house. (Giving Tuesday) seemed like the perfect time to launch our Road to Recovery efforts," Brown said. "If I can be here today — without a skillset — then it really is possible for anyone to help. We want the community at large to feel like they're investing in their community."

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