Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland Family Services Director NaCole Massengill assured interagency members the nonprofit does not make “cookie-cutter houses.”
“Every one of them is different,” Massengill said at Monday’s luncheon. “Our families are involved in the whole process, even when it comes time to build. They are brought in and they get to pick out their flooring, their carpet, their vinyl. They get to pick out their countertops, and all of their appliances are included also.”
Homes will primarily be built within three subdivisions started by Habitat. These include Century Village, near Blythe-Bower Elementary; Victory Cove, near the Dairy Kreme; and South Gate Hills, off of South Lee Highway. Massengill invited the members to drive through the three subdivisions to witness the diversity of the homes themselves. The 113th and subsequent remaining homes of this year will be built in the South Gate Hills subdivision.
A common misconception outsiders have of Habitat is homes are simply given away to families in need. Massengill explained while the families are in need, there are certain requirements which must be met.
According to a Habitat pamphlet, income guidelines cannot exceed the following limits: one person, $20,760; two persons, $23,760; three persons $26,700; 4 persons, $29,640; five persons, $32,040; six persons, $34,440; seven persons, $36,780; and eight persons, $39,180.
Applicants must have one year of stable employment history with good references. They must also have lived in Bradley County for at least one year. Additional requirements set forth in the pamphlet include a year of stable rent history and reasonable credit, both with good references.
All applicants must have the ability to pay an $800 down payment within the first year. Every person who is to be an occupant in the house must be a U.S. citizen or legal resident.
All individuals and families must work 300 to 400 hours of what Habitat calls “sweat equity” for their home.
“Families who are approved into the family must do sweat equity hours,” Massengill said. “The sweat equity hours come from volunteering, whether it is we have an event at Habitat or are manning a booth at an event. Also, they have homeownership education classes, that is part of it, and they also help with construction on their homes.”
An interagency member asked how an applicant with a handicap would gain sweat equity hours through construction.
Massengill said the individual would still be required to be at the site. She listed signing in the volunteers, bringing water to the workers and encouraging those on site as possible activities in lieu of construction.
All applicants must be out of bankruptcy with successful discharge for at least one year before they will be approved for a home.
The initial application includes everything from how many people will be living in the home to the applicant’s job income, child support paid, disability pay and co-applicant’s job income.
Massengill explained the application process also includes a review and interview by the family selection committee and a home visit by a member of the committee.
Members were reminded to check out the local nonprofit’s ReStore locations at 300 Grove Ave. S.W. and 4605 N. Lee Highway. All proceeds go toward laying the foundation of every home built by Habitat of Cleveland.
“We have one on the north side and one on the south end. You can find any and everything,” Massengill said. “You can come in and furnish your whole home. We have washers and dryers, beds, clothes, refrigerators, TVs and all types of furnitures. We even have building supplies at the south store.”
More information can be found by visiting www.habitatofcleveland.org.