Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Habitat short on homeowner candidates

Staff writer

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With no families qualifying for Habitat for Humanity’s affordable housing program this year, the eastern New Mexico organization is looking to take on smaller projects until it can find a qualified applicant.

The organization, which has built 12 homes in Curry and Roosevelt Counties since it became an HFH affiliate in 1999, has had trouble finding a family qualified for its housing program.

Habitat for Humanity Director Joyce Davis said the housing program usually builds at least one house per year.

“It’s hard to find anyone with the ability to make payments and the credit to qualify,” Davis said.

Davis cites low-wage jobs and lack of available jobs in the area as the main factors in the number of unqualified candidates.

link Photo courtesy of Joyce Davis

Habitat for Humanity volunteers work on Gay Luna’s house during Habitat’s Women’s Build Day in July 2013 as part of Habitat’s affordable housing program. Habitat for Humanity Director Joyce Davis said the program has been unable to find a qualified candidate for the program this year.

“The economy is a big issue. People have to have adequate income to make the payments,” Davis said of the requirements for the program.

The affordable housing program requires the homeowner takes out a zero-interest loan through Habitat to pay for the materials to build the house.

The homeowners will also pay what Habitat calls “sweat equity,” in which a single-parent family will put in 300 hours of work and a couple will put in 500 hours of work on the home’s construction.

Davis said the payments on the home are usually in the $300-per-month range. She said the low-monthly payments are often lower than the homeowner would have paid in rent elsewhere.

“People are hesitant to take on the responsibility of owning a home,” Davis said.

Davis said Habitat received 12 promising applications for the housing program this year, but were determined to be unqualified after further research.

“There were several without secure incomes. We have to follow the rules of a lending agency. If you have bad credit, we can’t help,” Davis said.

Habitat affordable housing program homeowner Gay Luna said the path to being accepted for the program can be tough, but encourages those applying not to give up.

“It seems like a lot, but it’s worth it in the end,” Luna said.

Luna said putting in the work on her house with the Habitat volunteers made owning the house more rewarding than being given a home.

“I can look back and say, ‘Look what I did’; that makes it that much better,” she said.

Luna’s house was the most recent that Habitat has built and was completed in December.

“It’s an amazing thing,” Luna said of the affordable housing program. “No words to describe how great it is. It put me and my girls in a place we never thought we would be.”

Davis said the volunteer organization has been dedicating time and resources to its other projects in the area while it waits for a qualified applicant.

Habitat’s main priority is the Brush With Kindness program that helps those who are physically unable to perform home repairs.

Davis said Habitat volunteers make home repairs that the owner could not do otherwise. She said the homeowner is responsible for the cost of materials, but labor is free.

The Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Clovis is second on the list for the organization’s to-do list.

Davis said Habitat has been in the process of closing the ReStore in Portales and moving the contents to the Clovis location.

She said the organization is always looking for volunteers that can help out at the ReStore and with Brush With Kindness.