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Habitat launches busy construction season

Aiden Sather, center, digs into the ground at 1901 Banks Ave. where his family's new home will be built in partnership with Western Lake Superior Habitat for Humanity. From left, his stepfather, Erik DeFoe, mother Mandy DeFoe and stepsister Payton DeFoe watch as Habitat director David Clanaugh looks at his notes. Jed Carlson /

Finding affordable housing big enough for a blended family of nine in a comfortable setting isn't easy.

But the DeFoe family is ready to roll up their collective sleeves to make that a reality.

The family is partnering with Western Lake Superior Habitat for Humanity to build a home at 1901 Banks Ave.

They broke ground Wednesday to launch the project on a parcel of city-owned land granted to the nonprofit by the Superior City Council on Tuesday night. It was one of two parcels the city granted to Habitat for Humanity for projects that will get underway this year. The other is at 1812 Oakes Ave.

"A lot is happening in our organization ... we are definitely at the ramp up stage," David Clanaugh, director of Western Lake Superior Habitat for Humanity, said Wednesday during a groundbreaking ceremony at 1901 Banks Ave.

"The Council has been really, really supportive of doing these and it's more of less our in-kind contribution to the project," said Jason Serck, Superior's economic development, port and planning director. "Housing is a big issue in Superior ... and single-family home ownership is one of those super, super important parts to keep the community together."

For Erik and Mandy DeFoe, it's an opportunity to bring together their blended family of seven children together in a home where they can be comfortable.

The couple, followed by their children, Aiden Sather and Payton DeFoe, each took a turn shoveling a scoop of clay and soil out of the newly conveyed parcel near the corner of North 19th Street on Banks Avenue, launching the start of work to build their new home.

"We're really looking forward to this taking shape here as well as on Oakes Avenue," Serck said.

"This Habitat home means we'll have a home that's big enough for our family," Mandy DeFoe said. "Between the both of us, we have seven children. Being able to have something where we all fit comfortably and that we can afford. The things that we will be able to do for our children in the long run will be amazing."

Erik DeFoe said it means a lot to the family to be a part of the project. He said currently, they live next to another Habitat project that is wrapping up with landscaping — something he plans to work on until work begins in earnest on his new home.

In addition to the house getting underway on Banks Avenue in Superior this year, work is expected to begin in August on another Habitat house in Duluth, Clanaugh said. And they plan to pour the slab this fall for a house at 1812 Oakes Ave., Superior, so construction can start in the spring.

Councilor Craig Sutherland, who represents the district where both Superior homes will be constructed, said he's glad to see the projects developed in the neighborhood.

"Welcome to the neighborhood," Sutherland said to the DeFoe family Tuesday night during the Council's deliberations about the land transfer.