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May 13, 2010 06:00 PM

Carter Homes Still Standing, Need Maintenance


It's been more than 15 years since a house building blitz launched the Eagle Butte affiliate of Habitat for Humanity, but evidence of it is still around.


Former president Jimmy Carter, his wife and 1,200 volunteers built 30 homes on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation in 1994.

With the number of Habitat for Humanity homes on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation growing, Lena Flying By is thankful her family is in one of them.

"We lived in a two-bedroom trailer house down at the tribal trailer courts," Flying By said. 

That was with a family of six, which has since grown.

Flying By's home is one of the thirty built back in 1994. The family contributed a down payment, some sweat equity and is now nearing the end of a 20-year payment plan.

"We've tried our hardest to keep up on our payments so we should be getting close," Flying By said.

Since the blitz, Habitat for Humanity has added 18 homes reservation-wide. It’s up to homeowners to maintain them.

"Yeah, we had to learn as we went," Flying By said.  "What we had to keep up with and we just went from there."

But not everyone has been keeping up their homes, a problem Eagle Butte's Habitat for Humanity has been trying to combat.

A maintenance man works with homeowners, but the work is overwhelming for one person. The non-profit also requires homeowners to take maintenance and budgeting classes.

With more than 15 years and a lot of money already paid into her home, Flying By and her family have been trying to learn.

"’Cause we figure if we want this house, then we have to maintain it," Flying By said.

Still, with fixed income families living in many of them, about half of the Carter homes are waiting for maintenance work.

In an effort to reach more families, Habitat for Humanity in Eagle Butte started a program a few years back to revitalize aging homes rather than only building new.
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