Valdosta-Lowndes County Habitat for Humanity
Valdosta is a growing metropolitan city in South Georgia with a population of about 50,000. While the area continues to grow and support a robust economy, there continues to be a great need for affordable housing. Thirty-nine percent of Valdosta-Lowndes county families with children lack adequate housing. These residents live in sub-standard housing with conditions such as overcrowding, no hot water, no electricity, no toilet or neither a bath tub nor shower with rent higher than a new Habitat house mortgage payment. For this reason, the city government and the Georgia Department of Community Affairs has made the elimination of sub-standard housing a priority. In 2001, this affiliate, along with the City of Valdosta and other community organizations, accepted Habitat for Humanity International’s 21st Century Challenge to eliminate sub-standard housing in the Valdosta-Lowndes County area by the year 2021. Please help us in meeting this goal.
Valdosta-Lowndes County Habitat for Humanity was founded and incorporated as a non-profit corporation in 1987. Our mission statement is to create stable neighborhoods and communities with God’s people in Valdosta and Lowndes County. Our tax ID number is: 58-1743206.
For many American families owning a home is a key aspiration. A family’s home provides a stable place to live, raise children, and participate in a community. Often a home is a family’s primary asset and serves as a base upon which to build additional assets. Communities with a high percentage of owner-occupied homes are generally safer, economically stronger, and characterized by a more engaged citizenry. Unfortunately, the American dream of homeownership is in peril for many low- and moderate-income families, owing to the dramatic increase in housing costs and mortgage payments. Conversely, the sub-prime mortgage crisis and rising foreclosure rate disproportionately affect low-income and minority homeowners, threatening the value of the homes and the quality of the neighborhoods.
We are a recognized not-for-profit leader in creating decent, affordable housing in South Georgia. 2012 will be our 25th year of building houses with our 200th house scheduled for June 2012. To date, we have built 187 homes, sheltering more than 700 people, allowing for low-income families in our community to find new hope in the form of affordable housing. Habitat for Humanity’s strategy for producing affordable housing for very low/low income families includes the use of volunteer labor, sweat equity, donated materials and fundraising from individuals, churches, organizations and businesses. Our house plans are engineered to be cost-effective and volunteer friendly without sacrificing quality or energy efficiency. This strategy enables Habitat affiliates to build homes without profit at a cost of 20-30% below the market price of comparable affordable homes. We sell these simple, decent homes to qualifying families with a zero percent mortgage and low cash down payment (to cover closing costs). The combination of sweat equity, no-profit pricing and zero interest mortgages enable very low to low income persons not only to have access to respectable housing, but also to develop real estate value, probably for the first time ever in their lives.
The Valdosta-Lowndes County Habitat for Humanity has hosted numerous special events over the years. In 2003, we were chosen as one of three host sites for the Jimmy Carter Work Project, in which 27 homes were built in one week with the help of over 800 daily volunteers from around the world. Each year we take part in several Blitz Builds sponsored by various organizations in the community including Building on Faith, Martin Luther King Build, Valdosta State University Blazer Build, Collegiate Challenge, Women Build, and Freedom Build. We have also partnered with the City of Valdosta’s Southern Hospitality Youth Group Work Camp that rehabilitates homes every summer.
Forty-three percent of Habitat families are below the poverty level and we are taking them out of structures 25 to 49 years old. With the foundation of a safe and secure home, these partner families can focus on family life, education, better employment opportunities and end the cycle of poverty. To assure our partner families’ success as homeowners, we have partnered with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs and the City of Valdosta to require all homeowners to attend our Homebuyer Educational classes which includes the following:
- Avoiding predatory lending
- Budget counseling
- Closing the loan
- Credit counseling
- Energy Conservation
- Foreclosure prevention
- Home maintenance
- Obtaining a mortgage
We also offer a one-day workshop designed to help people explore their options as homebuyers. This program covers information on programs such as the Georgia Dream Homeownership Program, USDA Rural Development as well as Habitat for Humanity. To illustrate the importance of these classes to the Valdosta-Lowndes Community, it is essential to point out that: local realtors, loan officers, mortgage companies, city government departments, and even homeless shelters send their clients to these classes. Hence, the Valdosta Lowndes Habitat for Humanity hopes that by becoming a HUD Certified Agency, that they will be able to not only provide further education to members of the community, but to also make becoming a homeowner a reality for all of the citizens of the Valdosta-Lowndes realm.
Habitat builds and sells homes, but more than that, we build communities. Our program provides a permanent solution in the battle against sub-standard housing. As of right now we do not have any foundation or large corporation fiscal support. With widespread community support, we empower individuals to be self sufficient. Valdosta-Lowndes County Habitat for Humanity is fortunate to have a tremendous volunteer base to assist us in our mission. Our 3,000 individual volunteers representing various organizations in the community, including local churches, Moody Air Force Base, Valdosta State University, and numerous civic clubs and businesses are tackling a significant social problem—decent housing for all. We invite everyone to build with us. We build homes 5 days per week and there is a job for all volunteers -- skilled or unskilled. We train any and all volunteers interested to work in some aspect of homebuilding or within our ReStore. We also train senior citizens through the Georgia Department of Labor as well as assemble many volunteer team-building activities for local businesses.
Hard costs for all materials and land are around $55,000 per house. Pre-acquisition and infrastructure is around $10,000 therefore this grant money would provide the funds to cover the pre-acquisition, infrastructure and foundation for two houses. Since our houses are partially funded by money that requires reimbursement after completion as well as from homeowner house payments.