Wanted: One veteran family in search of a habitat that is fit for a hero.
Habitat for Humanity of South Hampton Roads is currently looking for a qualified family to become the owner of a 1,200-square-foot, three-bed, two-bath home that will be built in Chesapeake.
About eight years ago, based on the significant number of veterans in need for affordable housing, Habitat for Humanity International put out a “call to action” to its U.S. affiliates encouraging them to start individual Veterans’ Initiative Programs, said Dan Lear, director of development and communications for Habitat SHR.
So the local Habitat formed a committee and established a program called Habitat for Heroes.
“The goal was to identify funding to build/rehab houses for qualified, local veteran families utilizing the same Habitat Model of a ‘Hand-up; not a Hand-out.’ With such a large population of military and former military families living in South Hampton Roads, we felt that it was the right thing to do to support this great community as a part of the entire community,” Lear said.
A qualified “heroes family” has one integral member who has served in the military, is currently a reservist, or is on active duty if they’re permanently assigned to the Hampton Roads area. Widow and widower heads-of-household from the aforementioned also qualify.
To be eligible to purchase the home the applicant family can’t earn more than 80 percent of the Area Medium Income for South Hampton Roads, which is currently $54,000 for a family of three.
Applicants must have good credit and the ability to cover the mortgage payment, which would be no more than one-third of the buyer’s income.
Lear said they’ve received countless positive comments from Habitat families who have worked on and helped build their “dream house.”
“It’s an incredible emotional bond that permeates to all of the volunteers who help them fulfill this chance-of-a-lifetime endeavor,” he added.
The applicant that is chosen must take homebuying courses and commit at least 200 hours of “sweat equity,” which can be either taking part in the construction of the home or by volunteering at the Habitat for Humanity Restore, which is the organization’s nonprofit home improvement retail outlet and donation center with locations in both Norfolk and Virginia Beach.
Lear said this will be the 11th home Habitat SHR has built for veterans: six since the Habitat for Heroes program began and four before that.
Thanks to the funding support and cooperation of the City of Chesapeake and a generous donation from the First Settlers Porsche Club of America, Lear said the project should begin in late September or early October. Property in Chesapeake has been purchased and the structure currently there will be razed.
“We are still raising funds to complete this project,” Lear said, adding that anyone who would like to donate can do so on the SHR Habitat website.
“The difference between our program and a traditional mortgage is we provide an equivalent interest free mortgage and monthly payments are no more than 30 percent of their income,” he said. “As a result, we can put families into houses that they could not otherwise afford.”
Interested veteran families can click here to review the qualifications, including income requirements. Or, they can call Ayesha Wiggins, family services director, at 757-640-0590.
Since its founding in 1988, Habitat SHR has built some 220 homes across Hampton Roads.