Habitat for Humanity is an international non-profit organization that assists low income families in obtaining affordable housing. The Grayson County location is no different; the organization is currently building a house for a local family. Laurie Mealey, the Executive Director of the Grayson County Habitat for Humanity, said there is a process on how families are chosen for a Habitat Home.
“Families need to demonstrate three things to be accepted,” Mealey said. “There needs to be a need for housing, the family needs to have the ability to pay for the home and they need to be willing to be a partner with Habitat for Humanity.”
Mealey said there are also sub-categories. “Applicants must fall within the income guidelines of earning between 25 to 60 percent of the median income for Grayson County, and be able to show two years of income and rental history.”
Most of the applicants are first time buyers. However, candidates must invest several hundred hours of sweat equity — working on other homes before qualifying for their own home.
“Family and friends can help the applicant invest some of the sweat equity hours,” Mealey said. Applicants have to attend a series of budgeting and personal finance classes to help them save for the $1000 down payment. “The down payment is used for the first year of homeowner insurance,” said added.
Candidates also must submit a background and credit check and a home visit. All of these parts of the application process are designed to help applicants succeed as homeowners, according to Mealey.
Mealey said a project always begins with the future homeowner in mind. “Habitat never begins a home until a partner family has been selected for the house,” she stated. “The family has input on aspects of the house design form the start of the project.”
The current local Habitat for Humanity project is located on Tolson St. in Van Alstyne. Mealey said the lot was donated to the organization. Crews have been working on the house since May 2017. Mealey estimates completion should be by the end of October. When a house is completed, there is a dedication ceremony.
“Habitat gives the keys to the house and a Bible,” Mealey said. “There are prayers, scripture, words of welcome and thanks, phots, laughter, hugs and tears — but not necessarily in that order.”
Habitat for Humanity helps the homeowners by carrying a zero-percent note on the home. The families repay the mortgages and escrows directly to the organization in affordable monthly payments over a 30-year note.
Mealey said she loves helping families obtain housing.
“Habitat works with applicants for a year or more before their home is built. After many months of work on the part of the applicant and Habitat volunteers, being able to hand over the house keys and a Bible to a first-time homebuyer is the best feeling ever. New homeowners are always proud of their home and very grateful for the opportunity to own a home,” she stated. “By this point, applicants and volunteers have worked alongside each other for months and know one another well.”