New home for the holidays: An Independence family realizes a dream

By Mike Genet mike.genet@examiner.net

Honesty Amos’ slightly early Christmas gift, which she will share with her mother and younger brother, turned out to be even bigger than she first realized.

As Mahoganie Horn led her daughter Honesty and son Karter through the main floor rooms of their new home, Honesty turned from the kitchen and found the door to the basement.

Mahoganie Horn (brown coat) and children Honesty, center, and Karter and Horn’s mother Martha Johnson, rear, wave to well-wishers during a small parade last Saturday morning to celebrate Horn and her children moving into their new home, a Truman Heritage Habitat for Humanity house in northern Independence.

“Oh, there’s more! There’s more!” she said, as grandmother Martha Johnson looked on with thanks and delight. The third grader later echoed what her mother had mentioned earlier, that she’s most looking forward to having her own bedroom.

Horn and her children received the keys last weekend after she closed on the house with the Truman Heritage chapter of Habitat for Humanity. Before they entered the house just off Noland Road and north of William Chrisman High School, a small parade of Habitat volunteers and supporters honked their congratulations and best wishes and dropped off cards.

After a quick tour and some remarks from Habitat chapter President Christina Leakey and her colleagues, Horn received a handy toolbox and opened a gift envelope that had been tucked into the tree erected by Habitat volunteers and staff. Inside the envelope was the house key.

“This is a blessing,” she said of the new home. “Thank you!”

Mark Schroer, construction director for Truman Heritage Habitat for Humanity, hands over the full toolbox given to Mahoganie Horn and her two children for their new home Saturday in Independence.

“This is a starter for us,” Horn later told the intentionally small congratulating party. “This is something that we can call home; we don’t have to worry about somebody wanting to sell in the middle of us paying rent.”

She said the new home gives her family a sense of security. 

“Like, we don’t have to uproot and move and move and move,” Horn said, “and we can actually put pictures on the wall and things like that my kids want to do.”

Horn earned a zero-interest mortgage by working with Habitat to meet some financial goals and completing more than 350 required “sweat equity” hours assisting Habitat volunteers.

In addition to the volunteers, students from the Independence School District’s construction trades program helped build the house as part of their course. The school district had donated the land, and a couple years ago students had helped renovate another home on the same block as part of their classwork.

“I actually liked doing that,” Horn, a Chrisman alum herself, said of the construction work. “It was pretty fun; you learned a lot, and you’re seeing the progress.”

“The construction crew was amazing. At first I was shy and didn’t want to do it because I didn’t know how to do anything, but they really welcomed me in. They helped me fit right in, and made it an easy process to want to go out and get the sweat equity hours.”

Money to support the build and the interest-free mortgage came from the city of Independence through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development HOME Investment Partnerships Act Program. 

“It’s fantastic when we have a family that goes above and beyond to help,” Leakey said, adding that Horn continues to volunteer hours herself toward others’ future homes. “We look for families that are willing to make a commitment to a partnership.”