Members of Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County have helped build HOPE for three partner families within the last five 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
informational meeting and application fair on Thursday, February 16 at 6 p.m. at the First United Methodist Fellowship Center in Downtown Smithville across the street from Love-Cantrell Funeral Home. Families will receive information about the Habitat Program and assistance to complete the application.
The third Habitat home on Hayes Street in DeKalb County was completed during the summer of 2010 for Kim McCowan and her grandchildren. The other two homes, completed within the last five years for the Denise Perry and Felicia Gibbs families, are located on Adams Street.
"We are seeking a partner family for 2012," said Marie Blair, chair of the Family Selection Committee for Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County. " To help people learn all about Habitat, we are having an informational meeting to explain all about Habitat. We will help you fill out an application and let you know what will be expected if you become a partner family," said Blair.
Applications must be postmarked by March 30. "We will help you at the February meeting and if you are unable to attend the meeting you can call Habitat and leave a message. One of the volunteers will call you back. The phone number is 215-8181," said Blair.
While Habitat provides resources and assistance, partner families are expected to do their part in helping build and pay for the homes. "I want to make sure everyone understands that this is not a free house," said Blair. " The house does belong to the partner family but its an opportunity for them to buy a house at no interest. They will pay only for the house. The family gets to help select the colors of their rooms, the kind of floors they want, etc. Of course there are some guidelines. We have some different house plans depending on the size and shape of the lot but the family does get to be involved in that (selecting house plans). The way they make their down payment is called sweat equity. That means the partner family actually works on the house. The children can help. They can earn sweat equity partly by staying in school, improving their grades, and having perfect attendance. It's a whole big family project," said Blair.
"We really do need a family," she said. " If you can make a house payment of between $300 and $400 a month and you don't have lots of other debt or if you do have debt, please attend the meeting. We're starting a new program to hopefully help families who need to get their finances in order. If you have interest in owning your own home and don't want to have to think about moving again and where your children can play in their own yard, come to the meeting on February 16," said Blair.
Volunteers are also needed to help when the time comes to start construction. " If you think you don't know anything about building, we have contractors that will tell you what to do," said Blair. "But all of us can pick up the trash from the work site. We have good support from our church community. They provide lunch when people are over there working on the house. Anything you can do, we can use your help. There are people who will be willing to show you what to do. We do have construction experts that do things like the foundation, the roof, and those things. We're just looking for people of all ages who want to help so if you want to volunteer you can call that same phone number (215-8181) and say I'd like to volunteer and work on the house," said Blair.
To qualify as a partner family, applicants must meet the following basic criteria:
1. Be a DeKalb County resident for at least 1 year.
2. Be a U.S. Citizen or have permanent resident alien status.
3. Have a housing need. For example, current conditions may be overcrowded, unsanitary, unsafe, temporary or cost prohibitive.
4.Have an ability to pay. Applicants must provide proof of income and ability to pay a monthly mortgage.
5.Be willing to partner. Qualified families will participate in budgeting and home maintenance classes as well as help in the construction of their own home.
If you are unable to attend the February 16th meeting, you may call 615-215-8181 and leave your name, address and phone number. A Habitat volunteer will contact you to provide additional information and perhaps mail an application to you.
To be considered, completed and signed applications must be postmarked by Friday, March 30, 2012.
The purpose of Habitat is to build houses and sell them at no profit and no interest to families who could not otherwise afford their own home. This Christian ministry is financed through private donations using volunteer labor and donated materials whenever possible.