The Greater Mount Airy Area Habitat for Humanity is seeking applications from local families to become recipients of homes through the organization.
But interested parties should be forewarned that even though Habitat houses are provided at zero-percent interest, they are anything but free.
“It’s definitely not a giveaway program,” said Lynn Wilkes, executive director of the local Habitat for Humanity.
“We always say it’s a hand up instead of a handout, and they have to partner with us to help build their home,” Wilkes added Monday.
Since its origin in 1993, 36 families have been served by the Greater Mount Airy Area Habitat for Humanity.
Three more homes are now being built, including one that’s almost complete.
As houses are constructed, additional families are solicited for the home ownership program, with Habitat for Humanity recently reopening its application process for them to apply.
From now through Nov. 30, those interested can contact the Habitat office to obtain a pre-application form. The single-page form is used to ensure applicants meet income requirements for the program before moving to the full application.
“The statistic is one in four people would qualify for a Habitat house if they would just apply,” according to Wilkes. “If people would just apply, they could realize this is a great opportunity for them to receive a hand up so that their family can have a simple, decent, affordable place to live.”
Three basic requirements must be met to qualify for a Habitat for Humanity home. For one, a family has to demonstrate a need for better housing, based on its present living situation, which can include substandard, unsafe, overcrowded or unaffordable conditions.
“We have a family right now who’s in our program who lives in a home nearly 100 years old and literally falling in on them, and the house itself could be condemned,” Wilkes said of one example.
In another, a family of six is crammed into a two-bedroom, single-wide mobile home.
Habitat house recipients also must fall within 30 to 60 percent of the median income for Surry County, which is $48,900, and show an ability to pay a zero-percent interest mortgage payment of about $425 to $500 per month. That payment includes homeowner’s insurance and property taxes.
The third qualification is a willingness to partner with Habitat for Humanity, which provides the housing on an equal-opportunity basis. This partnership includes a minimum of 250 sweat-equity hours, not only working alongside volunteers in building their own homes but helping to construct other houses.
Applicants also must complete homeowner education classes to help prepare them for ownership.
Wilkes can be contacted at 789-4663 to request more information or a pre-application form. Interested persons also can visit the Habitat for Humanity office at 813 Merita St. in Mount Airy.
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or firstname.lastname@example.org.