The Truman Heritage chapter of Habitat for Humanity has reached a major milestone in its plans to renovate the Hiram Young School in Independence.

For about a year, Habitat has been raising money to match a $240,000 grant from the J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation, based in Tulsa. Facing a deadline at the end of last month, the group got the word recently that it was getting a $60,000 grant, enough to put Habitat at $1,436,133 and match the Mabee grant.

The school on Leslie Street just north of Truman Road taught African-American students from 1934 to 1956. The school would house Habitat’s office and programs, including a home-ownership readiness center for the community. It also would be used to honor Hiram Young, who in the decade before the Civil War prospered by making wagons and yokes for settlers headed west and who championed education for African-Americans.

Overall, Habitat is looking for $2.7 million, hopes to break ground in renovations by late this year, and be in it with offices and community space by the summer of 2019.

“That’s what our hope is – by late this year,” said Development Director Carla Simpson.

Habitat is working to sell $250,000 in tax credits. In particular, it’s working with contractors, many of whom are women. That’s meant to reflect the fact that a large number of Habitat clients are single working mothers. Contractors’ in-kind donations can apply to the tax credits.

“If we sold the tax credits, we would be in a good” position, Simpson said.

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