INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — An organization that helps people achieve permanent housing finally has a permanent house of its own, as Truman Heritage Habitat for Humanity cut the ribbon Thursday to open its new headquarters inside the former Young School in Independence, Missouri.
The organization, which serves eastern Jackson County, had rented office space for years. The former school at 505 North Dodgion Street will serve as the organization’s headquarters and so much more.
Now named the Hiram Young Homeownership Center, the former school will continue serving a mission of education. Classrooms, gymnasium and a community kitchen provide plenty of room for Truman Heritage Habitat for Humanity to host courses on basic homeownership skills like plumbing, electrical work, cooking, budgeting, and more.
Habitat’s Home Ownership Preparation through Education (HOPE) course is open to anyone, not just families working directly with Habitat.
Truman Heritage Habitat for Humanity has shifted its mission to focus less on building new houses to rehabilitating existing houses, with hopes to rehab about 80 homes this year.
That shift is two-fold. First, it preserves housing stock for future generations. Second, it allows current homeowners to adapt their homes to their needs and age in place.
“We’re able to help that home be somewhere where someone can age safely in place. We’re able to do health and safety repairs, we’re able to help with code violations,” explained Lindsay Browne, Truman Heritage Habitat for Humanity’s director of family and community engagement.
Browne is also excited to begin offering classes in the community kitchen. Thanks to a $50,000 donation from Spire, Habitat for Humanity has outfitted the kitchen with appliances (including gas ranges) that mimic what someone might have in their home. Teachers will use vegetables from the community garden to show homeowners healthy meal preparations and more.
“The community will really be able to learn a lot in the kitchen, and we’ll be able to have some really good outreach efforts here as well,” explained Shaylyn Dean, Spire’s director of external affairs, who also sits on the Truman Heritage Habitat for Humanity board.
Preserving the history of the Young School was important to Habitat for Humanity. The organization will highlight the story of Hiram Young and the school and is still working to transform one classroom into a museum.
The school opened in the 1930s for Black students. After integration in the 1950s, the school served special education students but has been closed for around 30 years. Young’s daughter was once the principal of the school.
“Some of the students, quite a few of them actually, who attended this school were able to be a part of that [planning],” Browne explained. “They’ve come out and seen the space since we’ve finished it, they’ve shared their stories and their photos, and that’s just really neat to be able to have them see the school they attended be back into a purpose that is community-oriented and education-oriented.”
You can learn more about Truman Heritage Habitat for Humanity and its homeownership classes by visiting its website.