HAMLET – The paint wasn’t completely dry Thursday during the inauguration of Amber Baldwin’s new home by Habitat for Humanity of the NC Sandhills.
Family members and other Habitat recipients joined Baldwin and their teenage son Demarion in a special ceremony at the four bedroom home on Raleigh Street.
“Today is like our housewarming ceremony, where we can celebrate all of our families, all the volunteering and sponsorship efforts that have helped make this house a home,” said Amie Fraley, executive director of the local Habitat- Group.
One of the main sponsors was the First United Methodist Church of Rockingham.
“We have wonderful sponsors who share our belief that everyone deserves a safe, affordable place to call home,” said Fraley.
Habitat owners don’t get their homes for free, they buy them through a “guaranteed affordable mortgage”.
Baldwin began the process after learning about it from an employee in 2018 and joining the program early the following year.
To qualify for the program, according to Fraley, prospective homeowners must have between 30-60% of the county’s median income and a debt-to-income ratio of less than 43%.
“Most of our homeowners may not be able to go into a bank and get a traditional mortgage … but we can spend a year or two getting to know them,” Fraley said. “At the end of this process, we have a pretty good feeling about whether or not we can take a risk for someone.”
You will also need to take monthly courses to learn how to become a homeowner.
Baldwin said the classes were educational: “You learn a lot.”
As part of the program, Baldwin had to invest 300 hours of sweat equity to work on her own home and others.
“It was fun, I enjoyed it,” said Baldwin, adding that the demolition was her favorite part.
According to Farrah Pulliam, Habitat’s program director and general contractor, most Habitat homes are 40% more efficient than new homes built by other builders.
In addition to building houses from scratch, Habitat also recycles houses, Pulliam said.
Baldwin’s house is being recycled as it was built for another family who got too small and sold it to Habitat.
“We’re giving it a facelift – new floors, new paint, new cabinets, new fittings – whatever it takes to look like new,” said Pulliam.
Sometimes, Pulliam added, Habitat allows families to get a home sooner than a traditional build.
Baldwin’s neighbor Beverly Downy vouched for affordability.
“I used to pay nearly $ 700 a month for the projects,” said Downy, who has lived in her Habitat home for 13 years since June 14. “And what I pay here – half of it.”
Habitat has been building houses in the Sandhills for 34 years, according to Fraley.
On June 17th, Habitat livestreamed dedications in three counties 10 minutes apart – one of which is a house on Westfield Drive in Rockingham. This home was for Aurilla Shaw, a single mother of three.
Shaw was also present at Baldwin’s dedication.
“I love it, it’s beautiful,” Baldwin said of the recycled house. “I can’t wait to move into it.”
Baldwin will be closing the house on Friday and is hoping to move in with their teenage son Demarion that weekend.
To learn how to apply for a habitat home or volunteer, visit sandhillshabitat.org.