Habitat opens house to public

By Wendy Byerly Wood wbyerly-wood@civitasmedia.com

March 12, 2014

Thursday will be a chance for those in the public, or potential homeowners, to attend a different kind of open house as the Upper Yadkin Valley Habitat for Humanity is opening the doors of its rehab project on Gwyn Avenue for anyone curious about what the organization does.

“We wanted people to have a chance to see what an actual Habitat house looks like,” said Clair Sellars, executive director of UYV Habitat. “Families who are interested in partnering with us and some of our donors have not had a chance to see a home. We are rehabbing this one, and so it’s a good opportunity for people to see what we do.”

Typically, Habitat homes being constructed already have a family intended for the home, and that was the case with the rehab project at 330 Gwyn Ave., but the husband in the family unit who was working with Habitat lost his job and the family moved to another area to find employment, Sellars explained.

“We are once again recruiting for families for future houses, including this house,” she said. “Normally we don’t have a chance to have an open house because a family would already be living in it, so this is a great opportunity for us.”

The home is mostly completed, with a couple of details awaiting a new family’s decision.

She said a number of people helped with the rehab project on Gwyn Avenue including Surry Central High School’s Interact Club, volunteers from Elkin First Baptist Church, and Terry Parnell who pressure washed the house with the help of a donated cherry picker from All-Star Rentals.

Staff and volunteers, including board members, will be on hand at the home from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday to allow the public to tour the house; learn about Habitat ownership including who qualifies, how to apply and how much it will cost; and meet Habitat volunteers and staff.

Each family member who partners with Habitat to secure a home must put in 300 hours of sweat equity toward their own home and other homes being built, attend homeowner education classes such as budgeting and home maintenance and help Habitat with fundraising events, Sellars explained.

Mortgages are zero-percent interest with Habitat serving as the bank and mortgage payments go toward building other homes.

“One of the problems we noticed is there is definitely a housing need in our area,” Sellars said. “But during the recession people had to rely on credit to get through and now they are having to reduce their debt before they can get into this process.

“We look at their credit history and payment history to make sure they are able to make the payments,” she said of potential families. “We want to set people up to succeed and not fail, so we want them to be able to make their monthly mortgage, which is zero-percent interest and zero-percent profit.”

The rehab home is a three-bedroom, two-bathroom house, so the family it could house can vary from two to four children, Sellars said.

For more information on applying for a Habitat home, volunteering or donating to Upper Yadkin Valley Habitat for Humanity, call 526-2277 or visit uyvhabitat.org.

Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-835-1513 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.