Habitat to hold house application fair Oct. 22

Published 4:25 pm Monday, September 26, 2011

Habitat for Humanity of Chilton and Autauga Counties will hold a house application fair on Saturday, Oct. 22 at Clanton First United Methodist Church at 9 a.m.

Applicants must arrive no later than 9:10 a.m. with valid I.D., proof of all income and monthly bills, contact information for three references (cannot be related to applicant) and a Social Security card for all family members.

Habitat board member Kelly Nice said the application fair includes an in-depth presentation on the selection process and what it means to be a Habitat homeowner and partner family.

“We explain all of that in great detail so they know exactly what they’re signing up for,” Nice said. “They have to be willing to be an active participant in this project.”

In order to qualify for Habitat housing, applicants must have lived or worked in Chilton County for at least the past nine months; demonstrate a need for new housing based on income and current housing conditions; must be able to pay for new housing; and must be willing to be a Habitat partner family.

Habitat follows the Housing and Urban Development income guidelines, and people who earn 25-50 percent of the average median income for Chilton County may qualify for housing.

Habitat defines “need” as applicants who pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing and live in substandard conditions.

Part of the screening process entails a home visit, Nice said. A Habitat committee member will assess a family’s current home and look for conditions such as electrical, plumbing and structural problems, overcrowded rooms, dangerous location and lack of wheelchair access if needed.

Applicants must show the ability to pay for the home. Habitat homes are sold with a zero-percent interest, but proof of steady income and ability to pay the mortgage and taxes are required.

Another requirement is a family’s willingness to become a Habitat partner family.

“They actually have to earn what we call ‘sweat equity,’” Nice said. “We do ask that they perform volunteer hours. We also expect them to partner in our homeowner education program.”

Partner families must complete 400 hours of volunteer work, or sweat equity, in helping to build their own home as well as another family’s home.

“How we are able to keep our homes affordable is that we have volunteer labor,” Nice said. “We do hire a licensed builder to supervise the building project, (and) the homeowner is actually working side by side with the volunteers and learning about how their home is built.”

Nice said Habitat employees set timelines to keep track of each phase of the housing projects.

Habitat has implemented a new program this year called “A Brush with Kindness” to help existing low-income homeowners make necessary repairs to their homes.

“It is basically a mini-loan,” Nice said. “Little by little, they pay us back. We are at this time only focusing on exterior repairs.”

A common misconception is that Habitat only needs volunteers for home construction sites.

“There are many other ways to be involved with Habitat,” Nice said. “We’re actually growing to serve even more families. We’re always looking for volunteers.”

Habitat is currently seeking volunteers for its operational committees for family selection, family support, construction, fundraising, marketing and public relations, faith relations and site selection.

For more information, call (205) 755-8655 Monday through Friday.