First Bluestem Home Build Underway with the Help of Benson High Trades Students

February 8, 2023

First Bluestem Home Build Underway with the Help of Benson High Trades Students


Benson Students on the Bluestem Prairie jobsite

Habitat for Humanity of Omaha’s Bluestem Prairie affordable housing development got underway on Feb. 7 with its first home build and the help of some young volunteers from the neighborhood – Omaha Benson High School students.

Under the leadership of Habitat Omaha Construction Supervisor Margie Schill and Benson High Industrial Technology Teacher Thom Sibbitt, the students hauled lumber, read plans and worked with staff to install the green plate on the foundation, the first step in installing wood framing for the five-bedroom home.

The new home at Vernon Circle ironically is rising on the exact spot where the groundbreaking was last May with Mayor Jean Stothert, Nebraska State Senator Justin Wayne, City Councilwoman Juanita Johnson and other officials and supporters. A total of 85 homes will be completed on the once-vacant, 15-acre site of the former Wintergreen Apartment complex.

“This is a gorgeous area of town that has been forgotten for a lot of years,” said Drew Lier, director of construction for Habitat Omaha. “This is a big shift,” he said of the 85 affordable homes that will be sold for about $175,000 to $200,000***. People will qualify through Habitat Omaha’s Home Journey counseling program, take out low-interest fixed mortgages and complete “sweat equity” to purchase the homes, Lier said.

The volunteer element of building the homes also is vital to the trades. The 12 Benson students who began framing the house are working with Habitat Omaha professionals and gain invaluable experience, said Thom Sibbitt, a Benson High teacher who works with the off-site construction program.

“They (the students) have built about six homes in the neighborhood,” Sibbitt said. “This is giving them the skills to get a good job when they graduate.”

***Since this article was published, prices have changed and will continue to change due to the housing market. Please get in touch with our Family Services team with questions and concerns.

Visit the links below to see the local news coverage.

KMTV 3 News Now Story
KETV News Watch 7 Story
WOWT 6 News Story

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