Habitat still seeks families

Published 6:19 pm Monday, January 9, 2017

More than a year after construction began on nine Habitat for Humanity Homes in the Lake Kennedy area, most of them still are awaiting families to move in.

Two of the homes have been sold, according to Christine Early, chief operating officer for Habitat for Humanity of South Hampton Roads. A third closing is set for Jan. 13, and one more family is expected to be able to close in March.

But that still leaves five homes unfilled.

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“Basically, we need five more families right now,” Early said.

Construction started on the homes in fall 2015. Five homes are complete now, and one will be complete in a few weeks. The last three will be built in a blitz the first full week of June. It will be the second building blitz in Suffolk. The first occurred in Huntersville in 2008.

Volunteers already are being mobilized for the blitz.

Early said it has been difficult to find people who are qualified to live in the homes.

“It’s just hard getting them approved these days with the mortgage process the way it is,” she said.

Qualifying for a Habitat home means a family has to make less than a certain amount, but enough to pay the mortgage payment, and have good credit. Lower-income families often struggle to maintain a good credit score.

“It’s just hard to get people to qualify for that,” Early said.

Early said the income restrictions to qualify for a Habitat home range from the mid-$20,000s per year to the low $50,000s, depending on the size of the family.

“Some people feel you have to be really low income, but it’s higher than a lot of people think,” Early said.

Early said the organization has pulled out all the stops to find families to live in the homes.

“We’ve been doing a lot of target marketing and going to companies in Suffolk,” Early said, noting that many people who work in Suffolk may not currently live here but would like to.

A new campaign is starting up for public servants such as police, firefighters, teachers and nurses, Early also noted.

“We hope to get some interest from those groups as well,” she said.

More information and an application are available at shrhabitat.org. Early said paper applications also are available at the Suffolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority office, 530 E. Pinner St.