Successful candidates are people whose curent shelter is inadequate; who demonstrate an ability and willingness to partner with Habitat and who show they can pay for their home.
Candidates must live in sub-standard housing, have income which falls within established guidelines and be unable to obtain a conventional mortgage. They must provide 500 “SWEAT EQUITY” hours, be US citizens, be residents of Claiborne County for 12 months and be able to save enough money to pay for closing costs (currently around $1,600).
Every Groundbreaking day ceremony is exciting for both the new homeowner families and for the volunteers who help finance and build the houses. Civic clubs and churches also sponsor new homes by donating a portion of the cost and supplying labor for the project.
Habitat houses vary in size depending on the needs of the family. They are either 1064 sq. ft. with three bedrooms, or 1164 sq.ft. with 4 bedrooms, and provide basic, decent, well built homes for people who view them as “heaven” after living in sub-standard housing and not being able to see their way to purchasing a decent home.
There are many house plans from which to chose, so even though a neighborhood may consist of mostly Habitat homes, there is variety in the styles. The larger the home, the more expensive it is, of course, so in addition to family size the family’s income is taken into consideration. Mortgages are interest free and are for 20 years.
Upon becoming accepted for a new home, families are assigned a “nurturer” (mentor) from the affiliate who will work with them to help them accomplish their home ownership goals. This relationship lasts from the time of acceptance, through moving into their new home, and for a year or more after.
The months betwen being accepted as a Habitat Family and moving into the new home are busy ones. All members of the family participate in accruing the family’s 500 “sweat equity” hours. Young children are not allowed on the building site for safety reasons, but they “post” the family hours on the charts in the Habitat office, help make plans, and can help in planting flowers and similar activities after construction is finished.
Long hours spent helping build their home, attending classes and counseling sessions, volunteering at the Habitat office or Home store have all been worth while when the family moves into their brand new home and celebrates with the many Habitat friends who attend their dedication ceremony.
Owning a decent, affordable home does wonderful things for people. They develop a sense of security, pride and dignity. Many new homeowners go on to further their education, find better jobs, and continue to volunteer their time with Habitat to help others become home owners also.