08/20/13 — City donates property for house

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City donates property for house

By Matt Caulder
Published in News on August 20, 2013 1:46 PM

A fire-ravaged, city-owned property will soon be replaced by a new home for a local family.

Goldsboro City Council recently approved the donation of the property at 211 Shaw Court to Habitat for Humanity.

The current structure will be demolished and a new home built, said Ti'eishia Moore, the organization's executive director.

"We were hoping we might be able to restore it, but it's burnt up to the rafters and it's too far gone to save," Ms. Moore said.

Habitat for Humanity began rehabilitating homes along with its new construction projects about seven years ago, but the program has expanded in the last three years, Ms. Moore said.

Ms. Moore said there are 20 families awaiting housing and about six are eligible to move into the property at Shaw Court.

Working through new construction projects only, it would take four or five years to build enough homes for the 20 families waiting, but with rehabilitation projects, which take about half the time on average, all of those families could be placed in homes much sooner, she said.

Habitat for Humanity can rehab everything from cracked walls to electrical work and plumbing. Licensed contractors do much of the technical work.

The most important aspect to choosing whether to rehabilitate a house is its location.

"It's not common to pick up a house and move it," Ms. Moore said. "We have a team look at it, and they recommend four options: demolish it, rehab it, repair it or no go."

Sometimes rehabilitating a house is tougher than new construction, but it tends to move faster and cost less.

"We still use a lot of volunteers, which keeps our labor cost way way down so we can give this home to somebody with a low low mortgage," she said.

Eligibility for housing hinges on the family's economic status and how many "sweat equity" hours the individuals have put in.

Ms. Moore said "sweat equity" hours are hours of service completed by participating in rebuild projects or volunteering time at the Habitat store or office that "ensures there is some skin in the game and the house isn't just a freebie."

Families must volunteer 300 "sweat equity" hours before they are eligible for housing.

Families placed in homes are responsible for paying the cost of the homes back. They receive an interest-free loan.

One of the positive aspects of rehabilitation is that often the homes are donated to Habitat for Humanity by banks or municipalities because they have the understanding the houses will be fixed up and lived in, which increases property values in the area and brings in taxes, Ms. Moore said.

Habitat for Humanity now has 30 days to demolish the house on Shaw Court, and then 30 days following to select a family for housing. After that, Habitat will take approximately four to six months to rebuild the house.

There are plans for a three-, four- or five-bedroom house, and three individual floor plans within each subset. A three- or four-bedroom house will most likely be built on Shaw Court.

"We don't want it to be the best house in the neighborhood, and we don't want it to be the worst," Ms. Moore said. "We want it to be right in the middle, aligned with other houses surrounding it."

Along with renovating homes some larger Habitat for Humanity organizations nationwide have expanded to repairs on houses that are currently occupied.

"We won't look at that until we get these 20 families in homes, we're focusing on that," Ms. Moore said. "In three to four years, we would like to have new construction and repair running side-by-side."

Randy Guthrie, development services director for the city planning department, said he is excited for Habitat for Humanity to carry out its plans for the property.

"This really is a win-win for everybody involved," Guthrie said.