Two families for nine homes

Published 9:25 pm Wednesday, August 24, 2016


Habitat for Humanity still struggles to find qualified buyers willing to move into nine homes it is building off White Marsh Road in the Lake Kennedy community.

Habitat for Humanity still struggles to find qualified buyers willing to move into nine homes it is building off White Marsh Road in the Lake Kennedy community.

Two months after issuing a plea for applications, Habitat for Humanity of South Hampton Roads has only two families approved to live in nine houses that will eventually be built in the Lake Kennedy neighborhood.

“It hasn’t been easy to find families,” said Brad Kirkpatrick, executive director of the organization. “We’ve had some luck, but it’s just not easy to find families that qualify and have the salary.”

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At the time of a press conference the organization held June 22 to find qualified families, one family had been approved for one of the nine homes. A second family has since been approved, Kirkpatrick said.

But the difficulty in finding families has been unprecedented in the history of the organization, he said.

The qualification process for a Habitat home is fairly involved. Families must meet income requirements, which are on a sliding scale based on family size. They must have an immediate need for safe housing and be willing complete financial literacy and home maintenance classes, as well as be willing to put in 250 to 400 hours of “sweat equity” in service to Habitat. They also must have lived in South Hampton Roads, including Isle of Wight County and Smithfield, for at least one year.

Kirkpatrick said in June that only about one applicant per 10 or 15 applications overall actually qualifies for a home. Despite receiving about 200 applications right after June’s press conference, the organization still hasn’t found enough qualified families. Some who were qualified backed out when they learned where the houses are, Kirkpatrick said this week.

But the organization isn’t giving up. It is working with families who were not quite qualified when they first applied — perhaps their credit score was a little low or they had a little too much debt — to improve their financial standing and help them qualify.

They are also contacting local companies with lots of employees to pitch the homes as affordable workforce housing and also working with the Suffolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority, Kirkpatrick said.

The Lake Kennedy homes will be three to four bedrooms each and have an average monthly payment between $650 and $750. Many families pay less for the no-interest mortgage than they were paying in rent, Kirkpatrick said in June.

Even though there are, so far, no families to live in most of them, Kirkpatrick said construction on the houses is moving along. Four houses are complete, a fifth one is nearing completion and a sixth is under construction.

“Every one of our work days, we’re out there working on the houses,” he said.

The families that do eventually qualify for the homes should have no trouble meeting their sweat equity requirements, even though their homes will already be built. They can work on others’ houses as well as in the Habitat office or one of Hampton Roads’ three ReStores, which sell new and gently used furniture, appliances, building materials and housewares.

Visit for more information on how to apply.