Family moves to Habitat home just in time for holiday joy

By Bethany Knipp

OGDEN – A family of three moved into their brand new home last week, just in time for Christmas.

Nikki Crabtree and her two children Kennedy, 6, and Kaleb, 3, have a home to decorate for the holidays, thanks to the Manhattan Area Habitat for Humanity.

The Crabtree family was selected this year by Habitat to receive a house, which they helped build themselves – working nearly every Saturday for six months.

“There’s now a beautiful home for a beautiful family,” Manhattan Habitat’s director Roxann Janes said.

The Crabtrees’ three bedroom, one and a half bath, 1100-square-foot home at 322 15th St. in Ogden is special, Nikki said.

“Our house was built by people that wanted to build our house,” she said.

A 39-year-old single mother who was working at Big Lakes Development Center helping people with developmental disabilities, Crabtree and her children were living with her parents before she saw the application for building a home at the Ogden Community Center.

It turned out that Crabtrees’ home would be the first one Manhattan Area Habitat has built in three years.

Janes said the group had gone under the radar because of what she described as poor leadership, but after Jane’s appointment as director in June, the organization is back to building homes – with a goal of two per year.

After Crabtree was selected based on need and qualifications for owning the home, she ended up waiting for her house longer than anticipated.

“Nikki had been selected and they were having issues with the lot,” Janes said.

Janes said the lot was sloped, so it had to be graded before Habitat could build.

“[Nikki] was a little hesitant, thinking she was never going to be in her house, but we got her in there,” she said.

Janes said the family had waited about a year to move in. Once Habitat broke ground in July, the family, along with Habitat’s volunteers, built the house Saturday by Saturday.

“Technically, we built it in 20 days,” Janes said. But altogether, the planning and building added up to more than 1,000 hours, she said. 

As part of the agreement with the organization, home recipients partner with Habitat to volunteer and take budget classes, so they’ll be able to help with paying off the no-interest home loan for the house. 

Since the Crabtrees moved in Dec. 14, they’ve been appreciating the home as their own Christmas present.

“It’s a huge gift,” Crabtree said. “It’s nice to know as a single mom, I can support my kids.”

Kennedy and Kaleb are enjoying the house, too.

“I think they’re comfortable,” Crabtree said. She said that even though her son is only 3 years old, he knows it’s their house.

“My son has never had his own room. He loves his ‘boo’ room. He won’t say blue,” Crabtree said.

Through the long process of Crabtree’s home ownership and her personal involvement with its construction, she said she’s learned a lot.

“Shingling and that was a lot of fun. Electrical work, that’s not for me,” she said.

But moving in just in time for the holidays, Christmas will be extra special for the Crabtrees.

“We’re going to have Christmas at our house this year,” Crabtree said.

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