Habitat for Humanity’s Watauga chapter is looking for prospective tenants. Last Tuesday the organization held a meeting in which prospective homeowners came and were briefed on what it takes to partner with Watauga County Habitat.
“We’re our own affiliate under Habitat For Humanity International, so we just look at our own community and figure out what we need,” executive director Alex Hooker said. “It’s all built with the partnership model where we work with the homeowners; we’re not doing it for the homeowners, but with the future homeowners. In terms of the qualifications to work with Habitat or to be a partner family, you got to have three things: need, ability to pay and the willingness to partner.”
Ramey said that any applicants will have their backgrounds and credit checked, as that is required by law.
Besides those checks, the organization conducts home visits and credit checks. In Watauga’s Habitat, a potential homeowner must make in between 30-60 percent of the median income in Watauga county ($35,491in 2014, according to the U.S. Census Bureau) and show the ability to make monthly payments. It is also required of the applicants to submit the two most recent year’s worth of tax returns.
“We don’t look at credit scores but we do look at credit and we look at history of bills that you’ve paid. ‘If it doesn’t work out this time, try again,’” Hooker said. “There are times where we’ll look at stuff and say, ‘alright, we’re having an issue with this credit card, it racked up a lot of debt on that,’ so we kind of work with people to get that debt down. And then we encourage [them] to re-apply.”
Along with those three points, applicants must be willing to do some volunteering in the form of physical contributions.
“Each adult over the age of 18 has to do 250 ‘sweat equity’ hours a piece. You can have [up to 40] hours donated, as well. Usually most people can get that done,” Hooker said. “The work is not all on site. We’ve had people do babysitting, watching volunteers’ kids while they work, that kind of stuff: doing construction on other homes, your own home, working in the ReStore, sometimes people make lunches for the crews that are out working.”
The education workshops offer homeowner education classes, which include financial literacy and budgeting in order to understand how to manage money and eventually maintain a home.
Typically one family is approved at a time. After completing the projects at hand, Watauga’s next in line are the Bradshaws.
“[Renting] feels like we’re throwing money away,” Jesse Bradshaw, a prospective homeowner, said. “I can’t stand throwing money away.”
Bradshaw’s wife, Jessica, shared the same sentiment.
“We’re ready to be homeowners. We’re tired of renting,” Samantha Bradshaw said. “It’s hard; we’re young. Hopefully our application goes through.”
There is an App State Habitat for Humanity club for interested students which consist of fundraising activities and assistance in building homes for local families.
Story by: Angela McLinton, News Reporter