It started with an
Homebuilder Bill Perdue was speaking with his friend and
cohort Dan Ozaydin of Heartland Properties.
We were talking about veterans," said Perdue, who operates
BP Quality Homes. "I said it'd be neat to build a new home for a veteran and
give it to 'em with no strings attached, give it to
'em free and clear."
The idea grew. Perdue contacted subcontractors and
suppliers he works with and the businesses have agreed to donate supplies and
labor for free.
"It's unbelievable that everybody was on board," Perdue
Organizers plan to ask for a donation of land by the city,
which would be subject to City Council approval.
Perdue and Ozaydin also contacted
the Pottawattamie County Veterans Administration and the Council Bluffs
office of NeighborWorks Homes Solutions, a nonprofit organization that helps
low- and medium-income families find housing, for assistance as well.
"It's going to be wonderful for the area," said Darlene McMartin, director of the county Veterans Administration
and an Army veteran. "Finding affordable housing in our area is difficult.
It's great that we can do this, that he can do this for them."
McMartin and Cherie Scott, housing
specialist with NeighborWorks, will work on an application to find an owner
for the home. The group agreed on choosing a disabled veteran with children.
McMartin explained that "disability" covers
a number of maladies, both observable and hidden.
"They may have wounds that aren't visible. Just a physical
disability is not the only requirement," she said.
The recipient must be employed or have adequate disability
payments to afford the home - including coverage of taxes and utilities -
The home will feature a forgivable
mortgage for the first 10 years, with 10 percent knocked off per year over
the first decade, organizers explained. That means if the homeowner sold it
after three years, 70 percent of the proceeds would go back to the VA or
NeighborWorks. After 10 years, the owner would net all proceeds from a sale.
"We don't want to put someone in there where it's above
their income source. We want them to succeed," McMartin
said. "We want to make sure that success is there for them in the long run."
Scott called the project a "no-brainer."
"When Dan and Bill came to us with this idea, I just fell
in love with this idea. I'm so lucky that this came into my lap," said Scott,
an Air Force veteran. "We're so grateful to do this for another veteran. This
is a great opportunity."
Until the land agreement is finalized, it's unclear where
the home will be located. The house will feature three bedrooms and two
bathrooms, with 1,300 to 1,400 finished square feet. The house will be on a
concrete slab, with no basement.
Construction is set to begin in the spring of 2016.
"There are still a few details to iron out, but we don't
see any roadblocks at this point," Ozaydin said.
Throughout a conversation about the project, Perdue
stressed one thing above all - the importance of his subcontractors and
suppliers in the project. More than 20 local companies are donating material
or labor for the project.
"This wouldn't be possible without my subs and suppliers.
They're a great group," Perdue said. "They're making this possible."
Perdue served in the Navy, fighting in the Korean War,
while his father, Darrel, served in the Navy during World War II. Bill Perdue
said his grandsons, Trevor and Brody Perdue, are Marines.
"I think it'll be cool for everyone to be able to do this
for a disabled veteran," he said. The organizers of the project said they
hope this is the beginning of a sustained program, with Perdue noting he
hopes more donors come forward.
"Hopefully, this won't be the last," McMartin
said. "Hopefully, we can do this, maybe not every year, but when we can. I
think it'd be a wonderful thing to get other vendors and subcontractors to be
able to do this on an ongoing basis, as resources allow."