Habitat of Humanity of Champaign County is accepting pre-applications for its 11th home build and plans to invite all pre-applicants for an orientation dinner Jan. 29. According to Marcia Ward, Habitat for Humanity board member, the organization has nine applicants, but hopes that more people will pre-apply by dropping by the ReStore, 955 N. Main St., Urbana.
Following the simple pre-application process and the dinner, applicants will have three weeks to complete the larger application that includes providing bank statements, credit scores and three credit references. Ward said that of 14 families who pre-applied last year only four finished the full application.
Applicants must have lived in Champaign County at least a year, must have a job, pay taxes and show need. Every adult member of the household must be willing to give 250 hours of sweat equity in building the home. In addition, the selected applicant will take courses on good business practices to ensure their ability to pay the mortgage when the house is complete.
Families who complete the full application will receive a home visit to make sure that any future homeowner would take good care of a new property. Ward said she expects to know the final selected individual by the end of February.
Volunteers will work on building the house every Saturday at 8 a.m. starting in March. Multiple church groups and volunteer organizations typically get involved, but anyone can participate just by showing up. A grant offered by Community Development Corporations to assist with the cost of building stipulates that the house must be complete by Oct. 31.
New homeowners typically pay about $450 a month, toward a no-interest mortgage, directly to Habitat for Humanity.
Ward said that Habitat for Humanity received a donation of two lots on Dewey Avenue from Jeff White, owner of White’s Auto Group. The board unanimously approved the donations, which are each slightly bigger than the lot on which last year’s house was built, but will still require a long and narrow house.
One of the lots will be used for this year’s build project. Ward said she hopes to find a lot in a different part of the county for 2020.
“We would like to, theoretically, build in Urbana one year, the next year build in St. Paris, Mechanicsburg, North Lewisburg, Westville, in the county somewhere,” she said. “But our issues are we can never find a lot that has a lot and/or septic. Because, if we have to dig a well and if we have to pay for a septic, we can’t afford it, because right there is close to $20,000 additional and we try to keep our houses at $70,000 or under.”
To help cover the cost of the build, Habitat for Humanity of Champaign County is beginning the year with a fundraiser, and has already sent out letters asking for donations. Individuals have contributed as little as $5 to more than $5,000. People interested in donating may send a check made out to HFHCCO to the ReStore at 955 N. Main St. in Urbana.
Christopher Selmek can be reached at 937-508-2304