Thursday, March 26, 2009
Habitat for Humanity
By SUE WATSON
The Danny Merriweather family will be the sixth recipient of a Habitat for Humanity house in Marshall County, according to Habitat president Greg Taylor.
The property that the house sits on was donated to Habitat for use for this home by the Joseph Ford family, he said.
Habitat For Humanity is a national organization with local chapters that help raise funds and gather materials to reduce the cost of construction of a house, Taylor said. The owner of this new home will pay about $50,000 for a home that will be valued at about $90,000, he said.
The house is 1,140 square feet - a three bedroom, two bath home.
The new owner will pay back the principal, taxes and insurance, Taylor said. They will also put about 400 hours of sweat equity in construction of this new home and in future homes built by Habitat in Marshall County.
Russell Johnson, who has been a member of the local chapter since 1997, said the organization of a county chapter of Habitat was a project of a Marshall County Leadership program in the 1990s.
“It was a project they wanted to do and that’s how it got started,” he said.
Serving as an officer of the local chapter, becoming a member, or just volunteering or providing materials and donations has deep meaning for the individuals who help.
Johnson said, “Personally, it means giving something back to the community. We have already received our blessing. We are passing our blessing on to them.”
Patsy Shelton of Byhalia was a founding member of the local chapter in 1994. She said Habitat would like to build a house every year but has raised just enough money to build six in 14 years.
Habitat cuts down on the cost of house construction in a number of ways to make the home affordable to the new homebuyers.
In every case, the land or lot for the home is donated, saving thousands of dollars. Labor, which accounts for about half the cost of construction, is mostly donated and materials are donated or reduced in price by suppliers when possible.
The new homebuyer has to be thoroughly screened before he or she is approved to become a Habitat home owner, Shelton said. Their credit and character is checked out and he or she must show poof of income and ability to pay back the loan.
It is a common misconception that Habitat for Humanity is a free program, but it is not, Shelton said.
“We depend on volunteer workers, and donated materials and labor and land to be able to build the house cheaper,” she said.
Habitat needs new members and volunteers, she said, explaining that the local chapter now has only about a dozen active members.
“We need some new, young blood,” she said.
The chapter holds regular meetings on the third Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m. at either the Citizens Bank in Byhalia or at Merchants & Farmers Bank in Holly Springs.
Present officers of the local chapter include Russell Johnson, building coordinator; Rev. and Mrs. Don Wilson (board member) of Byhalia; Landry Hearn, special events coordinator and fund-raising coordinator; Patsy Shelton, treasurer; Greg Taylor, president; and Harvey Payne, board member.
The local chapter does not start a house until the chapter has raised $10,000, Taylor said. Habitat gets its resources from fund-raisers and local donations and from resources provided by all the county banks, Johnson said.
Donations can be sent Marshall County Habitat For Humanity Inc., Post Office Box 700, Holly Springs, MS 38635. For other information, contact any one of the officers named above to make donations, become a member or offer help.
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