On Aug. 3, Habitat for Humanity Matthews will dedicate its 100th home: 105 George Clay Lane.The same day, one of Tanisha Logan’s biggest dreams will become reality.At 10 a.m., Logan and her three children – 15-year-old Kadesha, 17-year-old Kenneth and 18-year-old Darius – will receive the keys to their home, something the 36-year-old single mother has worked toward for a long time. “I’ve worked at Home Depot since 2002, but I always paid so much in rent I could never get ahead. Now I’ll be paying only half that, and the house will be mine. I’m beyond excited. I just can’t believe it,” Logan said. Since its charter in 1989, Habitat Matthews has seen this scenario many times, using mostly volunteer labor to build houses for families that couldn’t afford them. Civic, business, corporate and faith-based groups commit the $65,000 up front and agree to provide volunteers for 13 consecutive Saturdays to help build a house. In lieu of a down payment, the future homeowner commits 200 hours of work on the house, then arranges 200 more hours through family and friends. Once their home is finished and occupied, their low monthly mortgage payments go to help build the next house. “The model of volunteer-based building is unique to Habitat for Humanity International, whose founder, Millard Fuller, envisioned a world in which all families have a safe place to call home and one which they helped build,” said Dawn Folmar, Director of Development for Habitat Humanity of Matthews. “The idea to offer low-income families a ‘hand-up not a handout’ was Fuller’s brainchild, and still stands today. Every homeowner pays the affiliate a low monthly mortgage payment, and the money generated by those mortgages helps to fund the purchase of materials for the next building project.” Habitat Matthews is an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, but each affiliate operates independently. The Matthews affiliate has its own Board of Directors, manages its own budgets and raises its own funds, as do all other affiliates.Folmar says this allows all donations to Habitat Matthews, and money raised through the ReStore thrift store, to remain in the Matthews area. There are three Habitat affiliates in Mecklenburg County. Several years ago, Habitat Matthews received permission from Habitat International to expand into a small part of Stallings and into Mint Hill. It’s already built a few in-fill homes in Stallings’ Eastwood Forest subdivision and hopes to build more to revitalize the neighborhood. The organization also is scouting locations in Mint Hill to expand.“That area isn’t being served with affordable housing, and it really is needed,” Folmar said. To be approved for a Habitat house, the potential homeowner must complete an application that includes information about income, job stability and family size. For Logan, home ownership started with rejection by the Application Review Committee. “I applied and they turned me down because of my credit. So I worked for about a year to get my credit back up, I applied again, and they approved me,” Logan said. Since that approval, she’s attended required finance and homeownership classes to learn how to budget money and to handle things such as changing furnace filters and where the home’s water cutoff can be found. St. Matthew Catholic Church in Ballantyne sponsored Logan’s house, sending dozens of volunteers every Saturday for three months. Logan says she was overwhelmed with the care and support.“These people don’t know me, but they came out and treated me like family,” Logan said. “They would feed us lunch, and then, when I left, they made sure I had enough food to feed my family for the rest of the day. People I didn’t even know helped dig trenches in the snow, put on shingles, hung sheetrock. I was just overwhelmed about how much they cared. “Sometimes when you are a single parent you think, ‘This is as far as I’m gonna go.’ You kinda condemn yourself by thinking, ‘I can’t do that.’“But there are programs out there for you. You just have to be persistent and search. Don’t call it quits before you ever start. There’s something out there for everyone, and there are people who care about you.”
Friday, Jul. 26, 2013
Habitat Matthews: 100 homes and growing
Learn more: The public is invited to the celebration of the 100th Habitat Matthews home 10 a.m. Aug. 3 at 105 George Clay Lane, off Charles Street. For more information on how to volunteer, sponsor or donate to Habitat for Humanity of Matthews or the Habitat Matthews ReStore, visit www.habitatmatthews.org, Habitat for Humanity of Matthews on Facebook or call 704-847-4266.
Melinda Johnston is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Melinda? Email her at email@example.com.
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