Habitat For Humanity Provides More Than Just Affordable Housing Opportunities

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By: Marisa Herman Associate Editor

Delray Beach-based Habitat for Humanity of South Palm Beach County will be building in Delray again thanks to a partnership with the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency.

After two years, Habitat is returning to the city it is based in to build on five lots in The Set neighborhood.

The agency board approved a donation of lots to Habitat to build its zero interest mortgage homes on the land in January. The project is called “Lots of Humanity.”

“We thank the Delray Beach CRA for making the American dream of home ownership a reality for five new families,” Habitat of South Palm Beach County president and CEO Randy Nobles said.

Now, the nonprofit is gearing up to break ground on the affordable homes that provide “a hand-up, not a hand-out” to those who are seeking homeownership.

The first home will be built by the CEO Build this month. More than 70 business leaders will work on “the House that CEOs Built.”

The anticipated completion date for the home is spring time. Several other houses will also begin construction start dates.

Construction on one of the lots will be a Blitz Build meaning it will be completed in just a few weeks with help from Altman Companies.

This affiliate has built 52 homes in Delray. The last one was completed in Nov. 2016. This affiliate of Habitat serves Boca, Delray and Boynton.

Habitat of South Palm Beach County vice president and chief development officer Kari Oeltjen said this affiliate was founded by IBMers who saw a need for affordable housing. The first home they built was located in Pearl City in Boca. The original Habitat homeowners still reside there, she said.

Nobles said to qualify to be a Habitat homeowner is a process that can take anywhere from a year to 18 months. Recently, the nonprofit hosted an informational meeting for 250 people. That number will be narrowed down to 12 families.

“That is the type of demand there is,” he said.

Those who make it into consideration then must qualify for a mortgage, be considered low income households, have no bankruptcies in the last few years, have credit and pass a background check. Each adult individual selected to be a Habitat homeowner must volunteer 250 hours of sweat equity building Habitat homes. They must also complete financial literacy courses.

“Our goal is to break a cycle,” Nobles said. “We see the upside with the kids.”

In looking for potential homeowners, Nobles said the nonprofit looks for people who want to be involved in bettering their neighborhood through involvement and pride in their home and community.

He said homeownership promotes children’s success in graduating from high school and college.

Building affordable homes is not the only way the nonprofit is making an impact in the communities it serves. The nonprofit also has other programs that help enhance the overall image of a neighborhood or community.

They hold neighborhood revitalizations where they will paint a home with the “Brush for Kindness” program. Homeowners are asked to help pay $200 for the fresh coat. Recipients do not have to live in a Habitat home.

For more “critical repairs” Habitat will help with replacement of items like a roof or irrigation system. Homeowners are asked to pay 10 percent of the cost, which can be financed.

This year, Habitat worked on revitalizations in Delray called “Rock the Block.” Sponsors helped families that qualify clean up their homes by raising money and donating their time.

A new initiative “Aging in Place” will help seniors who are staying in their homes make changes to their home for things like a wheelchair. Habitat just received a grant from AARP to help assess 10 homes for families with seniors who are aging in place.

To get involved in an upcoming build, call Kari Oeltjen at 561-819-6070 or visit habitatsouthpalmbeach.org