GARY — In a first-of-its-kind partnership between the Diocese of Gary, Catholic Charities and Habitat for Humanity of Northwest Indiana, a new single-family home will soon become a safe haven for struggling single-parent families.

Groundbreaking ceremonies Thursday morning for The Tabor House at 604 Harrison St. drew dozens of supporters from the three organizations as well as Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson and Gary City Councilman Michael Protho, D-2nd. The home is in Gary’s 2nd District and will be directly across from Cathedral of the Holy Angels.

“This is an innovative creation. It’s a place where a single-parent family can truly find a home,” Bishop Donald J. Hying of the Diocese of Gary said about the home designed as a temporary shelter to stabilize a family living in a struggling environment.

“Housing is often the biggest barrier to a family moving into opportunities for education, employment and maybe becoming a Habitat homeowner,” said Jennifer Dyer, executive director of Catholic Charities.

Dyer said a family would live in the home on average 12 to 18 months. The Diocese of Gary and Catholic Charities will work together to identify a family in need, she said.

Dan Klein, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Northwest Indiana, called the project which began with discussions a year ago “the beginning of stabilization of a family. I’m excited my board was in favor of this.”

The 1,900-square-foot, four-bedroom home features a living room, dinette, kitchen, a laundry room and two full bathrooms, according to plans distributed in the program.

The Diocese of Gary will hold the deed to the new home, Klein said.

In a surprise announcement, he told those gathered that Habitat for Humanity has received the deeds to the two homes directly south of the new home’s location on Harrison Street. Those properties will eventually be demolished to redevelop the area, Klein said.

“We are grateful for another opportunity to speak life into this community,” Freeman-Wilson said.

The mayor said she attended the Synod Mass June 4 at the Genesis Center and joined the pilgrims' walk to Holy Angels Cathedral.

“I received a firsthand view of the need in this community,” Freeman-Wilson said about that experience.

“Tabor House will take us one step closer,” she said. “I am hopeful for transformation, confident that when we all put our shoulders to the wheel that great things will happen in this community.”

The bishop first mentioned the building of a Habitat for Humanity house during that Synod Mass.

“We will never give up on the city of Gary,” Hying said to the mayor during the Mass.

The Tabor House was so named because it was on Mount Tabor that Jesus’ transformation took place, Hying said on Thursday.

“His disciples saw what could be,” the bishop said. “Here we get a glimpse of what could be. Each one of you is a key player.”

In his opening prayer, Hying asked God’s blessing on the site and thanked God for the “gift of Habitat for Humanity. May this Tabor House be an example of your life in our midst.”

Sprinkling holy water on the site, Hying joked that the blessing would “soften up the land.”

Shovels in hand, a group including Hying, Dyer, Klein and Freeman-Wilson, broke ground for The Tabor House.

Klein said the Rev. Patrick Kalich and parishioners of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Crown Point are donating $5,000 and will build the walls of the home in the cathedral parking lot.

Other donations to build The Tabor House are being sought, said Michael Wick, the Diocese of Gary chief of staff. Those items include everything from $12,000 to put in a storm sewer to $10 for a box of nails. For more information, contact Wick at 219 769-9292, ext. 258.

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