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Habitat for Humanity Cleveland County offers a Hand UP to home ownership

Home Sweet Home.
That phrase has special meaning to folks who have achieved their dream of home ownership via help from Habitat for Humanity Cleveland County whose motto is "We provide a Hand UP, not a handout".
Habitat for Humanity Cleveland County executive director Amy Allen stated the organization's core philosophy.
"Our mission is seeking to put God's love into action," Allen said. "Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities, and hope. Our vision is a world where everyone has a decent place to live."
A perfect example of that credo was manifested recently with the dedication of two new homes in the Young Oak Square neighborhood of Shelby. The first dedication was June 9 and the second on June 22, 2024.
The story began in July, 2023 when five Cleveland County congregations partnered to help build a Habitat House in Young Oak Square. The home was dedicated a little less than one year later.
The five congregations that entered this partnership were Eastside Baptist Church, New Creation Christian Center, Ryburn Memorial Presbyterian Church, St. Mary's Help of Christians Catholic Church, and Shelby Presbyterian Church.
Together the five churches provided more than 160 volunteers who worked primarily on two Saturdays each month over the course of that year.
Donating nearly 2,000 volunteer hours, these congregants framed walls, nailed up exterior sheathing, assisted with electrical installation, added all siding on the outside of the house, installed windows and doors, painted the entire inside of the house, laid vinyl flooring, put in interior doors, trim, and baseboards, hung cabinets and shelving, and installed appliances.
Additional workdays with regular volunteers every Tuesday and Thursday provided the time needed to complete the project. In addition to the contribution of volunteer labor, the churches raised $115,000 to assist the local Habitat Affiliate with the building of several homes.
Former Eastside Baptist pastor Rev. Dale Byrd talked about the church's involvement.
"It has been awesome to see how God coordinated this Church Partnership Build," Byrd said. "God sparked the idea from a simple informational meeting about the mission of Habitat where He gave a couple of pastors the idea of partnering together to build a home. Then before long five churches had committed to the partnership and soon the work began. Now, less than a year later, the home is complete. Go God!"
The two partner families of the Young Oak Square houses are Ashley Clark and Tachika Poston," Allen said. "They were selected in June of 2022. During the last two years they have put in over 200 hours of 'sweat equity' in their new home. There is a third house at Young Oak Square that is in the dry and we hope to have completed by the beginning of 2025. We named this project Young Oak Square as we are building three houses at the corner of Young and Oak Streets. In April of this year, four new partner families were selected. One of those families will build at the third location at Young Oak Square while the other three will be at our next location on East Warren Street, Shelby."
Poston expressed gratitude at being a new Habitat homeowner.
"This opportunity of homeownership has been a slow process, but the memories made are those you carry forever. I have enjoyed every minute," she said.
Through these kinds of contributions, Habitat is able to sell the houses built to homeowners at an affordable price. Through no-interest financing homeowners pay a mortgage that is typically less than monthly rent for a typical apartment in Cleveland County. Beginning with favorable initial equity, the homeowner then builds additional equity as they pay their mortgage. In addition, Habitat homeowners are tax-paying residents of Cleveland County.
Allen explained how homeowners are picked.
"Our selection process is based on need for housing, willingness to partner, and ability to pay. Income must be 30% to 80% of HUD area median income, credit reliability, and debt-to-income ratio. The selection process is rigorous. We had 62 applications this year and they competed for four spots."
Habitat for Humanity Cleveland County has a strong tradition. It was affiliated in 1987 and built its first house in 1988. Before becoming dormant, the organization built four houses. Since its founding Habitat was reorganized in 2002 and increased its building capacity with 36 completed houses to date. That is 36 completed houses since 1987. Habitat has built and refurbished individual homes and has been involved in community development in the Ezra Bridges Neighborhood and Vermont Village and various other single homes throughout the county.
"The projects in our county exemplify the impact Habitat wants to continue as we grow," Allen said. "Working with faith, corporate, and community partners, Habitat has consistently built strong homes to improve the lives of families in our county."
Frequently Asked
How do I apply for a Habitat for Humanity house? Habitat for Humanity in Cleveland County accepts applications at the ReStore. Visit our website www.habitat
forhumanitycc.com to print an application or pick one up at the Office/ReStore, located at 323 W.Grover St., Shelby.
How does Habitat select applicants for the Homeownership Program? Applicants are selected using three criteria: Need for affordable housing, ability to pay an affordable mortgage, and willingness to partner with Habitat.
Are Habitat houses free? No. Habitat for Humanity is not a giveaway program. Instead, homeowners make an initial escrow payment of $1,800, work hundreds of "sweat equity" hours, attend homeowner education, and pay an affordable mortgage.
What is Sweat Equity? Sweat equity is the time and effort you contribute to constructing your house and other Habitat houses. Sweat equity is the hours you work building homes, at the ReStore, Office, or other Habitat activities. Future homeowners invest a minimum of 200 hours for a single applicant or 400 hours for two applicants. Additional adults living in the home may be subject to sweat equity requirements. Friends and family may help you with some of your sweat equity by volunteering with Habitat and pledging their time to you. The donated hours may not total more than 25% of your total 200 required volunteer hours.
What days can I work? Construction workdays are Thursdays and the second and fourth Saturdays each month, usually from 8:00 am until midday. ReStore and Office hours are available on an as-needed basis. Our construction manager sends a weekly email with information regarding construction.
What days are the homeowner education classes? Homeowner education classes are required and are scheduled with our volunteer counselor.
How long will it take for the construction of my house? It generally takes approximately 18 months from the beginning of the program to the completion of your home. During this time, you will work on completing your sweat equity requirement, attending homeowner education classes, and making installments on your initial escrow payment.
Do I have to have perfect credit? You do not have to have perfect credit. Your credit must display your ability and willingness to repay the Habitat mortgage. You must maintain creditworthiness throughout the process.
Are Habitat houses quality built? Habitat houses are well-constructed, energy-efficient homes. In addition, Habitat houses meet or exceed all the same building codes as houses built by any other builder.
Do I need to have any building skills before I apply? No, Habitat has a qualified Construction Manager who works with you, other families, and volunteers to teach you home construction. You will be amazed at how much you learn!
For more information on Cleveland County Habitat for Humanity and the good work that does visit https://www.habitatforhumanitycc.com/

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