Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

June 23, 2013

Habitat to dedicate seventh partner home

By Bob Belcher
Corsicana Daily Sun

Corsicana — Navarro County’s Habitat for Humanity project is ready for another celebration — the dedication of its seventh “Habitat House” on Wednesday, June 26.

For the last seven years, the group has dedicated itself to putting families who never thought they’d be homeowners into a new home.

However, after Wednesday’s dedication, the group doesn’t have an applicant for its eighth home project in the city — and they are actively seeking one.

Habitat for Humanity does not provide “free” homes. It does, however, through donated labor and materials, and a no-interest home loan to qualified “partners” in the program, make it possible for families who otherwise may not qualify for a traditional home loan to become a homeowner.

And it’s a ministry they want to keep moving forward with, said Habitat volunteer Tom Stewart.

The group is reaching out to find families to “partner” with to build its next project. Whether it be a lack of publicity, or a lack of understanding of how Habitat works, there isn’t a family identified yet for the next project.

Qualifications for participation in the program include families who presently living in inadequate housing and unable to obtain adequate housing through conventional means. The size and condition of the present home, and the size of the family is also taken into consideration.

Habitat will review an applicant’s current financial status, including income and rent and other obligations, in the selection process.

Another important part of the process — the applicant family must put in what Habitat calls “sweat equity” — which means joining Habitat volunteers in the building of the home. That can include painting, helping with construction, clearing the lot, and even such things as preparing food for Habitat volunteers. In addition, the partner must be willing to work as a volunteer on another Habitat project, helping to build a home for purchase by another Habitat family.

“They need to be willing to put forth the effort and demonstrate they are a good investment,” Stewart explained. “They are getting a great deal on a house, and a zero-interest loan.”

Cost of the Habitat homes are less than typical new construction, in that the property and a lot of the materials and labor required are donated. The loan to the partner family includes the mortgage, property taxes and insurance on the house, which the partner family is responsible for paying each month, much like a typical mortgage, but at no interest.

The Navarro Habitat for Humanity program is open to Navarro County residents who meet the program’s income requirements and would be able to make the payments on the home without impacting the partner’s ability to meet other financial obligations. Habitat volunteers will work with prospective families to help develop a budget to better manage household income.

Stewart said the organization is reaching out to other organizations in the community in an effort to attract potential partner families, either through direct contact or by referral.

Navarro Habitat formed in 2005, and became an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity in 2006. Since that date, seven homes have been built for partner families, five of them on Gioia Circle off North Ninth Street in Corsicana — land donated to the organization by the City of Corsicana.

The program has enjoyed participation by business and industry throughout the city, and attracted literally thousands of man hours of labor through its seven years of building homes.

The dedication of the latest Navarro Habitat home for partner Latonya Jimerson and family is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Wednesday, June 26 at the home site on Gioia Circle.

For more information on applying or becoming a volunteer or donor, visit the organization’s website at www.navarrohabitat.org, or call 903-872-4690.

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Bob Belcher may be reached by email at bbelcher@corsicanadailysun.com. Want to “soundoff” on this story? Email: soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com