Now, thanks to Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland, she will have an interest-free mortgage, a brand-new home and a host of new friends.
This is the story of Alicia Upton.
“I met another Habitat homeowner and she encouraged me to apply, so I did,” Upton said.
Upton began the application for the Habitat program last April.
Even before carpet was put down, her soon-to-be new home was being showed off to a group of community members as part of Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland’s Hard Hat Tour.
Annie Kinworthy, community development coordinator, led the tour that highlighted community partners and the importance of volunteers. The house tour was given in Century Village, the organization’s largest subdivision in Cleveland.
Kinworthy said the subdivision was named Century Village because it will be the site of the organization’s 100th home.
When Upton moves in next month, her new home will be the result of many donations, corporate partnership and countless volunteer hours, some of which she served herself in what Habitat calls “sweat equity.”
“I have been here every step of the way. I’ve been up here with tools and hammers and dirt and injuries and everything — I’ve been here,” Upton said with laugh.
She said working on the house gave her an opportunity to get to know the volunteers.
“It has been so fun being out here with these volunteers,” Upton said. “They are absolutely fantastic.”
Kinworthy said volunteer labor saves the organization thousands of dollars.
“Without volunteer labor, we couldn’t exist,” Kinworthy said.
“A lot of times people think, ‘Well, I’m not a builder, I can’t volunteer with Habitat.’ They could not be more wrong,” Kinworthy said.
She said people of various skill sets are needed by the Habitat organization.
Proceeds from the Habitat ReStore also make each house possible. A $5 purchase at the ReStore allows Habitat to purchase two 2x4s. Spending $50 there provides funding for five pieces of sheetrock. Each house costs Habitat about $50,000.
The Habitat selection process is based on need, the potential homeowners’ willingness to partner and the ability to pay. Homeowners are also required to complete 300 to 500 volunteer hours with Habitat. Habitat homeowners are also required to attend financial classes offered on budgeting.
These volunteer hours are completed by working at the Habitat ReStore and building their future home.
Kinworthy said the application processs is extensive, and families can apply throughout the year.
“What makes Habitat so successful is that we offer the opportunity of ownership with no-interest loans,” Kinworthy said. “So they have this 25- to 30-year mortgage that they get to pay back interest free.”
The organization works with families if they have trouble making payments. In rare cases the organization has had to foreclose on a house.
Since many of the Habitat families are owning their own home for the first time, Habitat has family advocates who work with the families to go over all the extra elements of homeownership, such as lawn care.
Kinworthy said when she first came to work for Habitat she was a little overwhelmed by all the services.
“We are a retail company because we have a store. We are a mortgage company because the homeowners ... actually pay a mortgage to Habitat. We are a construction company, obviously because we build houses. We are a repair organization. We do home repairs now. We are kind of a family services/counseling thing — all into one,” Kinworthy said.