Habitat for Humanity, Building Hope for Families

June 8, 2011
Dwayne Page

Members of Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County have helped build HOPE for three partner families within the last four years and they would like to reach out to another family this year.

If you would like to experience the dream of home ownership you are invited to attend an information meeting and application fair on Thursday, June 9 from 6-7 p.m. at the Smithville First United Methodist Church Family Life Center next to Love-Cantrell Funeral Home. Applications must be completed and postmarked by June 30.

The third Habitat home on Hayes Street in DeKalb County was completed last summer for Kim McCowan and her grandchildren. The other two, completed within the last four years for the Denise Perry and Felicia Gibbs families, are located on Adams Street.

Laura Stone, member of Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County, said Habitat works in partnership with people in need to build affordable housing. The houses are then sold to those in need at no profit and with no interest charged. "It's a great opportunity for those who may not otherwise be able to afford a home to actually get in their own home. There's zero percent interest on it. You have to meet three criteria. The basic things are that you have to be in need of a house due to inadequate or substandard housing that you currently live in which may not have enough rooms for you, there may be structural issues or heating and cooling issues," said Stone.

"Secondly, you must have an ability to pay for the house. Your mortgage, property taxes, and insurance are all included together. We have income guidelines for that and they range anywhere from a one person family in which you can't make more than $17, 875 a year all the way up to an eight person family who can't gross over $33,000," said Stone.

"You also must have a willingness to participate and partner with Habitat. What that means is you must have a certain number of sweat equity hours. That number is 500. What you would do is come out and assist in the construction of your own house and or work with some of our volunteer functions that we have including our chili supper, our Fiddler 5K, and things like that. This is where you get in your sweat equity time. All of our current homeowners have helped in building the next house so its an ongoing thing where everyone gives back," said Stone.

Stone further explained that partner families don't necessarily have to build on the Habitat site. "People have a misconception that they have to build where we're building. If you have a lot or if someone has donated land to you, we can build on that land. We can go anywhere in the county. The only problem would be if you have property in an area that is under building codes or restrictions. Our houses generally do not meet the square footage guidelines for most restricted housing areas. We're a little bit under that. But basically, anywhere you have a lot or if someone wants to give you a place to build, we can build on that for you," said Stone.

As a partner family, you may also have some input on what your new home will look like.

In addition to providing an opportunity for affordable home ownership, the efforts of Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County also help put money back into the local economy and tax base." Sixty eight percent of the building supplies of our house in 2010 was purchased in DeKalb County. We paid out about $6,000 to local subcontractors. We did have a lot of volunteer work, but we did have to pay for some things. Homeowners also pay city and county taxes just like everyone else. We've generated about $3,000 in DeKalb County taxes to date with our three other homes, so we do give back to the community," said Stone.

Although money is raised through grants and local fundraising efforts, corporate and individual donations are vital to the continuation of Habitat's work. Another $15,000 will be needed to complete the next house. Your contribution can make a difference. You may send a donation to Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County at Post Office Box 750, Smithville, TN. 37166.

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