In 1988, some people in Greenwood had a vision of helping low income families own their own home. Nearly 25 years later, 73 families have that opportunity thanks to Greenwood Area Habitat for Humanity (GAHFH).
Approaching their 25th anniversary, GAHFH has an ambitious goal according to executive director Chad Charles.
“We want to serve 25 families with $250,000 in honor of our 25th year,” Charles said. “That’s a lot of families and we can get it done.”
The first step in the process of applying for a GAHFH mortgage is to call the office and have them mail a pre-application. The pre-application is currently open and will close on October 31st.
A family selection committee of six diverse volunteers will go through the pre-applications and select families for an application. Applicants have to work four volunteer hours to go along with their application. They must also submit supporting documentation to accompany the application.
The family selection committee, which has no GAHFH staff members on it, then begins one-on-one interviews and home visitations. The decision on which families will be helped that year is then made based on the number of homes available. This year, five families will be selected.
Those selected can receive a home in a couple of different ways. People donate lots and GAHFH constructs a new home on that lot, a home is donated which GAHFH refurbishes and, occasionally, GAHFH will purchase a lot and build a home on it.
The families then receive an interest-free 20-year mortgage for the actual cost of the home. All the mortgages are serviced in-house by GAHFH. There is also a silent mortgage placed on the home that covers the difference between the retail value of the home and the amount of the mortgage for the actual cost of the home. That second mortgage is completely forgiven after 10 years.
Families selected to receive mortgages also have to provide “sweat equity” to the tune of 500 volunteer hours before they can move into their home. Of those 500 hours, 250 of them must be completed by those who will live in the home. The other 250 can be completed by friends, family, church members or anyone else.
In addition to seat equity, families must go through a three-week homeowner education course and an eight-week financial planning course to help them transition to owning their own home more smoothly.
Beginning on October 27th, GAHFH will begin making landscaping and home preservation improvements to a number of homes as part of their new Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative (NRI). NRI is focused in the Carolina, Mill and Davis Street areas currently.
“We want people to feel better about where they live,” Charles said of the new program. “A lot of these people have lived in their homes for a long time and they may have deteriorated over time. We want to help feel good about living there again.”
The program is for owner-occupied homes and will provide landscaping, painting and a variety of other services for homeowners and is the effort of a number of partner organizations including the Greenwood Partnership Alliance, Self Regional Healthcare, Healthy Greenwood Neighborhoods, the City of Greenwood, the Greenwood County Sheriff’s Office and many others.
If you would like more information on the Greenwood Area Habitat for Humanity or if you would like someone speak to your organization about how you can get involved, contact Chad Charles at (864) 223-9399 or visit their website www.GreenwoodHabitat.org.