Wilkesboro-based Hometown Habitat for Humanity (HHFH), formerly Wilkes Habitat for Humanity, is busy building homes in Wilkes County with support from donors.
HHFH has built 48 homes in Wilkes, Yadkin and Surry counties since 1988. The 49th is under construction in Wilkesboro. It was funded primarily with sales proceeds from HHFH’s ReStore in Wilkesboro, along with funds from over 120 Wilkes County donors.
Wilkes Habitat for Humanity and Upper Yadkin Valley Habitat for Humanity have merged to form Hometown Habitat for Humanity in 2020.
The boards of directors of the two Habitat for Humanity affiliates voted to merge because of their overlapping service area in eastern Wilkes County, HHFH executive director Isaac Kerns said.
By becoming a single entity serving the Wilkes, Surry and Yadkin counties, it eliminated redundant costs and increased housing capacity in all three counties, he explained.
Kerns said HHFH has been busy building homes even as construction costs are rising rapidly due to inflation and pandemic-related disruptions.
This summer will break ground for the organization’s 50th home, funded with a full sponsorship grant from the Leonard G. Herring Family Foundation.
With $20,000 donated by the First United Methodist Church of North Wilkesboro, HHFH will break ground on its 51st home later this year
“Words cannot describe the gratitude we have for the support this community has shown to our organization during the pandemic and for the opportunity this gift from First UMC offers our organization to build a record number of new Habitat homes” , Kerns said.
“There has never been a time in our lives when the need for affordable housing has been more necessary and critical, and it is a blessing to be able to grow to better meet the need despite the rapidly escalating cost of housing. This big gift support is truly life changing for our customers,” he added.
Rev. Jim Sanders, pastor of the First United Methodist Church of North Wilkesboro, said one of the core beliefs of the United Methodist Church is that “all people are valuable to God and deserve access to safe and affordable housing.”
Sanders added, “Our church family has a long history of supporting Habitat for Humanity and other housing organizations, and it’s exciting to be able to make an investment like this in our local community.”
Mel Shinaman, longtime member of the community outreach committee, added, “I am grateful to all the individuals and families within the First UMC family who have strongly supported the work of Wilkes and Hometown Habitat for Humanity over several decades. You are the ones who made this gift possible, and through your generosity, we can help our neighbors build their homes here in Wilkes County.”
HHFH works with low-income clients who are willing to accept the benefits and responsibilities of home ownership but cannot afford a traditional mortgage. Habitat makes homes more affordable by deducting the profit from the sale price and financing the purchase with a 0% mortgage.
To qualify, prospects must be in need of housing, be able to afford housing, and be willing to work with Habitat to successfully purchase a home. These partnership requirements include a minimum of 250 volunteer hours of “welding capital” and completion of a homebuyer education program.
Kerns said that as part of its partnership agreement with Habitat International, HHFH does not extend fundraising beyond its local service area and only serves customers in that area. He said this means local donors are taking a direct role in supporting local Habitat homebuyers.
The application period to participate in Habitat’s homeownership program and have the opportunity to purchase a Habitat home began May 1st and will last until July 31st.