Habitat for Humanity accepting applications for next home

The land, a truckload of construction gear and dozens of volunteers are ready to serve, but one essential element is still missing for Habitat for Humanity's local affiliate: the next homeowner.

The home-building ministry is gearing up for its 15th construction project, and the search is under way for the family that will occupy a home at 2101 Towhee Avenue, in the Lynnhurst subdivision.

"We've received several applications, but for various reasons, they haven't made the grade," said Rick Berry, the group's spokesman. "In some cases, it's because they don't have a two-year job history, and in some cases, it's because their credit is beyond restoration in a reasonable amount of time."

"Perfect credit," he said, is not necessary, but a prospective homeowner does need credit that can be solidified "with a little bit of counseling."

Berry's fellow volunteers include financial counselor Christine Lewis, with Security Federal Bank. She helps would-be Habitat homeowners prepare for the financial task ahead.

"It's the same concept as with a regular mortgage," she said. "The only difference with Habitat is, they don't charge any interest. Their mortgages are done at zero percent."

Another factor is the Habitat concept of "sweat equity," she noted.

Habitat's web site explains, "In addition to a down payment and monthly mortgage payments, homeowners invest hundreds of hours of their own labor into building their Habitat house and the houses of others."

Lewis said she has observed that Habitat homeowners tend to appreciate that concept, "because they get to see what goes into building their home, and they tend to appreciate their houses more."

Habitat's goal is to reach "someone who lives in sub-standard housing now," Berry said.

"The benefit of it is that they end up ... owning the house for less than a rent payment would be, and it's a true home-ownership program."

Details and applications are available via the local web site, www.hfhna.org. The affiliate can also be reached at P.O. Box 8121, North Augusta, 29861.