December 02, 2019

As a member of Habitat for Humanity in Joplin, Barbara Huff knows the town has a housing shortage. The answer is more housing. But what if the housing was built as affordable rental housing? What if it was designed to withstand fierce storms? What if it was designed to be as efficient and environmentally friendly as possible? What if every aspect of the house was built keeping in mind the best possible accommodations for people with disabilities?

That’s a lot of criteria to fit under one roof. And that is exactly the type of structure that One Joplin broke ground on at 1403 Central in Joplin on October 29. 

The new duplex doesn’t just check all of the boxes, its construction is ahead of schedule on the day that ground was broken. 
“Our One Joplin housing sub-team hoped to be able to initiate a micro-housing project like this by 2022,” said Huff, who is director of family services for the Joplin area Habitat for Humanity. 

Jumping two years ahead of schedule was made possible by a gift of $88,000 from the Missouri Conference of the United Methodist Church. The funds were money that local churches and individuals donated to the Missouri Conference for tornado recovery following the E-5 tornado in 2011. 

Huff said rental houses in Joplin can go for $600 a month when they are in poor condition. Due to their condition, utilities can exceed $500 a month. That doesn’t add up for someone trying to live on a social security check of $700 a month. 

The new duplex being constructed is universal design access on one side and Americans with Disabilities Act compliant on the other side. The bathroom in the house has a concrete top to make it a safe room in the event of a tornado. 

“Some builders use a storage room as a safe room, but then people fill the storage rooms up with stuff and find they can’t quickly get into them in the event of an emergency,” said Scott Decker, director of construction for Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri. 

The house is being constructed using insulated concrete forms (ICF). The forms are light-weight and snap together like Lego blocks, so they make for easy construction for Habitat for Humanity volunteers. The forms are produced in Nixa. The walls are filled with six inches of concrete after the forms are in place. It makes a very durable, highly energy efficient home. 

The $88,000 from the Missouri Conference will be used to purchase building supplies and materials, landscaping and hire licensed professionals for electrical and plumbing work. 

“We are fortunate the Missouri Conference of the United Methodist Church heard about our initiative and stepped forward to partner with us,” said Ashley Micklethwaite, executive director of One Joplin.

Southwest District Superintendent Alice Fowler and Missouri Conference Director of Mission, Service and Justice Tina Harris participated in the groundbreaking.

“We wanted to partner with One Joplin because of their successful track record and community collaboration,” Harris said. “This honors the commitment of our original donors to help rebuild lives and strengthen communities in Joplin.”