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Grateful for Habitat

Habitat for Humanity does great work in Suffolk, and we were grateful to see that important work continue last week.

Habitat broke ground on Oct. 29 for a three-bedroom home on Pitchkettle Road that will be occupied by Neil Jordan and his sister, Cherryl. Neil Jordan said it was a blessing for them to be the future owners of the home.

Sponsoring the building of the home is one of the city’s best corporate citizens, Birdsong Peanuts. George Birdsong told the story at the groundbreaking of his connection to the organization’s most famous volunteer, former President Jimmy Carter, a peanut farmer by trade.

Unlike the misconception many people have about Habitat for Humanity, the homes are not a handout. Families must work hard to meet the criteria set forth by Habitat.

Qualifying families are those that are in some sort of unsafe, unsanitary or otherwise unsuitable living condition.

Homes are built or renovated and then sold at no profit to the families with a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage that is no greater than 30 percent of their income at closing. The mortgage payments are contributed back into the building program.

Families go through an application process that reviews their personal financial situation, income and monthly budget in order to determine their ability to make the mortgage payment. They must earn a steady household income to cover the mortgage, insurance, taxes and living expenses, as well as have a satisfactory credit report. They also must fall within strict income ranges.

Applicants must have lived in the South Hampton Roads service area for at least one year prior to applying. They also must complete 200 hours of “sweat equity” helping build their own and others’ homes, submit to a background check and more.

In other words, the process to live in a Habitat home is not for the faint of heart, and not just anyone can do it. It takes a special person who is genuinely in need and able to afford the “hand up” being offered.

If you’re interested in helping out with Habitat or inquiring about owning a Habitat house, email info@shrhabitat.org. The next application period opens in May.