HARRIS COUNTY, GA - Harris County Habitat for Humanity is actively seeking a "partner family" to move into the next home it builds, with completion anticipated in 2010.
"We're grateful that it appears we'll be able to make the dream of home ownership possible for a local family," said Bill Sutley, vice president of the local affiliate. "We like to think we're `building hope' along with each house."
Harris County Habitat is affiliated with Habitat for Humanity International, a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian ministry that's organized volunteers to build over 350,000 houses worldwide since 1976. The local affiliate, which has built seven houses since 2001, owns 12 acres in Pine Mountain Valley, near Shiloh, where the next home would likely be built.
To qualify as a prospective partner for a simple, affordable Habitat home, a family must meet three main criteria:
Need. Most of the time, that's defined as living in housing that's inadequate in terms of construction – with problems related to structure, water, electrical, sewage and-or heating-AC systems – or in terms of physical space for the size of the family. This also means that your family's income falls within a certain range compared to the area's median income.
Ability to pay. Since you will actually buy your home from Habitat, you must demonstrate your ability to pay a monthly mortgage payment, plus $500 and 75 percent of the first year's escrow (insurance and real estate taxes) at closing. Payments on the no-interest loan are much less than on conventional mortgages – usually under $300 locally -- because a Habitat home is built mostly by volunteers.
Willingness to partner. Partner families must complete a certain number of hours of volunteer work with Habitat. These "sweat equity" hours can include non-construction labor, and time put in on your behalf by relatives, friends and volunteers can count toward part of the sweat equity requirement.
More on family selection requirements, including income ranges allowed for prospective partner families, are detailed at http://harriscountyhabitat.org/family-selection.html.
Families who think they qualify after reading these criteria should fill out the application that's linked to that page.