Cheryl Glover, the resource development director at Houston County Habitat for Humanity, talks about how her organization has built it’s way up to 55 houses.
Q: How many houses has Houston County Habitat for Humanity built now?
A: Since we started in 1991, we’ve built 55 — we’ll dedicate the 55th April 28. The partner family moving in is excited to move from a one bedroom apartment that’s too small for them and has a terrible mold problem.
Q: What size family are they?
A: A mom and two children. The backstory is they actually owned a trailer home but a storm caused a tree to fall right into her daughters’ bedroom splitting the trailer in half. Luckily, they weren’t there. They had to move into a rented apartment but later applied to Habitat, did the work and now it’s ready for them. They’re back in a place, a better place, of their own.
Q: Are Habitat houses free to partner families?
A: No. They have to pay back zero interest mortgages but because of help from community neighbors and Habitat it’s reasonable and doable for working, low-income families.
Q: So how does that work?
A: They go through a qualification process that includes things like being a low to moderate income but having income to pay the mortgage. They come from a high-rent situations and some from homelessness. That doesn’t have to mean living on the street but could be living on a couch in someone else’s home or something. Some may be working two or more jobs and still not be able to get ahead but Habitat can come in and help.
Q: What are average monthly payments and home values?
A: We build three and four bedroom houses that are typically around $70,000 at the upper end four bedrooms. Monthly payments are in the $400 range. Part of our program is having classes for partner families on how to budget and manage a home as well as how to do upkeep.
Q: How many partner families have paid off mortgages?
A: That’s exciting because on the same day of the dedication of house 55 we’re also having a mortgage burning for a family. I don’t have the exact figure but to date we’ve had almost a dozen mortgages paid off. I think that’s a real accomplishment along with building so many houses in partnership with caring volunteers and families with their own sweat equity.
Q: Sweat equity?
A: That’s work partner families put in themselves plus they do other Habitat volunteer work, other builds and working in our ReStore.
Q: What are other things going in at Habitat Houston County this time of year? April seems a busy month.
A: Our “Home is the Key” annual campaign is underway to raise $250,000 to continue our mission, our building ministry. We’re working to raise it by June 30, so please, we’re asking the community to pray for us and consider giving. Please keep being part of all of us helping our neighbors. We appreciate every large and small donation from individuals and groups and businesses but are especially trying to enlist monthly support for sustainability and budgeting to plan ahead.
Q: Is Habitat funded exclusively through donations?
A: We’re a nonprofit and don’t get government funds. We run on donations, grants and partnerships. Some block grant are administered through governments like Warner Robins and focused on housing, but there’s no out-and-out government funding. It’s people who want to help their neighbors and see lasting change and the fruits of where their money goes that make a real difference.
Q: And fundraisers?
A: Yes. Our biggest of the year, our golf tournament at Southern Landings Golf Club, is at the end of the month. It’s April 27 and registration ends April 20. Even if you can’t play you can do a sponsorship or sponsor a hole sign. There’s time to get in on that plus find other actives and opportunities.
Q: What else is going on? More houses?
A: We have a women build and veteran build going on May 5. It’s house 56 and not exclusively for women volunteers but focused on that and mainly that. This one is for a veteran, a disabled veteran whose family suffered a house fire and lost everything. It’s our first official, certified Habitat veteran build. That’s enables us to get various benefits toward the home. We’ve had many veteran partner families before and our board is probably a majority of veterans — and I’d dare say half of our build volunteers are veterans — but this is the first build we’ve done under official Habitat veteran designation. However we do them, it’s always about bringing home ownership to families.
Q: And beyond that?
A: House 57 is on the horizon and being completely paid for by Publix Super Market Charities. It’s an exciting first for us to have a full house donated by one single organization. Hopefully 56 will be finished and 57 started in June. We’re exploring new things and might even have houses 58 and 59 be tiny homes for individuals or couples without children. It’s a big concept now and we’re looking into it. We might try one as a quick blitz build. Some of our volunteer builders are looking forward to a new dynamic that would bring. We’d love to see more churches come together for faith builds, too.
Q: Contact information?
A: Our website is www.hocohabitat.org, phone is 478-328-3388 and our offices and ReStore is at 955 Watson Blvd. Come to the dedication April 28 off Watson on Old Mission Way, back behind U-Haul Moving & Storage. It’s a good chance to meet people and see firsthand what we’re doing.
Answers may have been edited for length and clarity. Compiled by Michael W. Pannell. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.