The logo for Habitat for Humanity symbolizes its purpose. It’s an image of three people, one stretching their arms to lift the roof of a house while the others help alongside them.
Since 1989, members of the Habitat for Humanity for Hall County chapter have worked to embody what the logo represents. This dedicated group of volunteers put aside their differences and put on a hard hat to work together and build affordable homes for the homeless in their community.
As of their latest house dedication this winter, volunteers with the Hall County chapter have completed 65 houses total, with 55 of the homes built from the ground up and the other 10 from rehabilitation.
A common misconception with Habitat for Humanity is that homeowners receive their home for free, but nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, staff and volunteers with the non-profit will say that in many ways it’s harder to be a Habitat homeowner than purchasing a house of their own.
First, Habitat for Humanity requires that applicants meet three basic requirements before they are considered for homeownership: have a need, an ability to repay and a willingness to partner.
Following their approval, new Habitat homeowners must commit to several financial classes through the non-profit and at least 260 hours of construction on their home and the homes of other Habitat homeowners. After their home is complete, Habitat homeowners continue to pay an affordable mortgage.
Although it’s a long road to the final product, becoming a Habitat for Humanity for Hall County homeowner is a rewarding journey. Homeowners often become close friends with the volunteers who help with the construction of their home and their neighbors nearby. Each journey culminates in a house dedication day following the completion of a new home, where the bonds between homeowners and volunteers are evident.
“My favorite and best days are dedication days,” said Alison McElvery, Executive Director for Habitat for Humanity for Hall County. “What I love even better is when the family says, ‘I put the first nail in!’ or ‘I was the last one to paint the door!’…it’s a pride of ownership.”
The close bonds and affordable mortgages are undoubtedly major reasons for the success of this organization.
According to Christine Osasu, Director of Community Outreach and Digital Media for Habitat for Humanity for Hall County, the non-profit has a 97% success rate of homeowners continuing to pay their mortgages.
“We offer a chronic solution to both a crisis and chronic problem,” said Osasu. “People are always going to need housing throughout their life from birth to the cradle to the grave…we are creating a generational solution.”
While Habitat for Humanity for Hall County exists for potential homeowners, there are many ways the community can get involved.
For starters, this non-profit is always open to volunteers and sponsors who may want to help with construction. Habitat for Humanity also participates in International Women Build Week and partners with Lowe’s to encourage women to work on constructing a home.
Outside of construction, Habitat for Humanity for Hall County has a Restore on Murphy Boulevard in Gainesville. This store accepts donations of furniture, appliances and other household items from the community to resell at a reasonable price.
Just like the Habitat for Humanity logo, volunteers and Habitat homeowners work hand in hand for the continued growth of the non-profit and it’s benefit for the community.
“Not only does this [non-profit] gives individuals the opportunity to come out and put their faith into action, but it allows groups, corporations and churches to come out and also participate,” said Osasu.
“It takes a village to put a homeowner in a house,” said McElvery. “All I say is everybody has a chance to be a part of the village.”
Through this organization, the faith of volunteers and the willingness of new homeowners come together to result in many inspirational stories of overcoming hard times.
“We just recently had a homeowner who two of her children went to college, she sold her house, walked away from the closing with a profit and came and paid us back,” said McElvery. “When she came in and we were high-fiving and hugging and loving on one another, she said, ‘Wait a minute, I also paid off my car, I owe nobody.’ ”
More information about this local non-profit is on their website https://habitathallcounty.org/.
For Goodness Sake is a monthly series highlighting non-profits in the North Georgia area. If you have an organization that you would like to see included in this series, please email firstname.lastname@example.org