Utah Stories

Habit for Humanity Bargains

Utah’s Habitat for Humanity not only provides homes for low-income families, it also operates a thrift store for essential building materials.


utah habitat for humanity


utah habitat for humanity
Habitat for Humanity Kevin Mathena, Bill Hungzinger and Layne Burrows

Anyone who has ever done remodeling knows “the list”–that scrap of paper scrawled with, “Get paint, nails, caulk, etc., etc., etc.”

At the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, one can not only fill the list, but also perhaps find a dolphin-shaped table! “It’s one of the more unusual items I’ve seen donated,” says Layne Burrows, who has worked there for five years.

The ReStore is in essence a bargain thrift store for those needing building materials. In the 30,000 square foot warehouse, its 15 departments include plumbing, electrical, flooring,appliances, furniture and an occasional dolphin table. The inventory is constantly changing. Contractors, building managers and individuals donate excess items when a project is completed. The ReStore collects over 90 full truckloads of material a month, and nearly 200 people shop there daily.

“Everyone deserves a decent place to live,” says Ed Blake executive director for the Salt Lake Valley Habitat for Humanity. Blake says the “stars aligned” to make the ReStore a success since it started five years ago. “True Value Hardware held their national convention here. When they closed, the exhibitors donated 24 semi-loads of brand new products for us.”

The ReStore, however, is only one aspect of Habitat’s presence in the Salt Lake area. To date, it has built 92 homes for low-income individuals to own. “A person applying for a home makes between 30 and 60 percent of the area’s average income. They must contribute 225 hours of sweat-equity to the project. They then receive a zero percent interest 30-year loan at $550 to $650 a month that pays it forward to the next recipient. A typical homeowner is a single mom. She’s not doing it for herself; she’s doing it for her kids,” Blake says.

Habitat is also backing a Healthy Homes program. Blake explains that for many chronically ill people, conditions such as asthma are a result of a house problem. “A doctor can’t write a prescription to fix a house. When we work with a homeowner, we have a 100-point checklist that looks for things such as mold and bad drafts. We are finding that one dollar in house repair equates to saving nearly nine dollars in Medicare costs.”

For Blake, being a director is somewhat of a dream position. He came to Habitat after a successful career in real estate. “It wasn’t Jimmy Carter that got me hooked. My wife simply said to me, ‘You should do something that you like.’ This job gives me the opportunity to see the light in people each day.”

The ReStore, 1276 S. 500 W.
Open M-Sat, 9 am – 6 pm


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