"[The class will cover] all of the information [regarding] how to apply for a Habitat house, what the requirements are," said Robin Hooker, executive director for the local Habitat. "Some of the requirements [are that the applicants] have lived or worked in Bartow County for at least the last year, meet income requirements, have to have the ability to pay for a Habitat for Humanity home.
"At the Humanity Homeowner Orientation class, they will actually receive an application. They'll have one week to bring the application back with our application fee. The application fee is $25. That's our processing fee, which includes a credit check. There will probably be about four families selected. The first home will start being built sometime in the middle of March."
Since forming in 1984, Bartow Area Habitat for Humanity has constructed nearly 40 residences. While an average of 150 people apply each year, only about 10 percent of the applications are further evaluated.
"There are tremendous amounts of people that are in the Bartow County area that are currently living in substandard housing," Hooker said. "And, of course, with Habitat our main goal is to help end homelessness [and] substandard housing. That's our major goal -- to really affect the lives of families with children or without children, to really make a difference in our community.
"It's an extraordinary opportunity for someone to apply for a Habitat house and actually be chosen. It's a godsend. It's something that when they receive their house, you pass the keys to them, and of course, it's a very emotional experience for them because before they applied for a Habitat for Humanity house or before they were chosen, they never anticipated ever being able to move forward in their lives to the next level. And that's what Habitat actually allows them to do, is to actually be a homeowner."
Valued about $110,000, the nonprofit's homes are sold for about $75,000. House payments issued by Habitat range from $400 to $425 a month, which includes taxes and insurance.
"It's affordable to where they can live," said Habitat Administrative Assistant Kathy Stringer, adding Habitat homes provide stability for the families, which enables them to reach their full potential. "They can enjoy their life and not have to worry about enormous heating bills and electric bills. Because it's going out the windows or holes in the wall ... [then] they spend $800 on a utility bill. So it gives them a warm place to live also. So a lot of these, especially our past two families, their [previous] home just wasn't warm at all. And even [though] they [paid] those high utility bills, their homes just weren't warm.
"I think that's the main thing to me, is just seeing what a difference a Habitat home makes and [I want] them not to be discouraged if they come to a meeting. When they come to [an orientation] meeting, they may see a lot of families there because usually we have around 150 or more families that come but [they should] not to be discouraged because not everyone qualifies. It's not just wanting a home, it's being in need of a home and there's a big difference there."
This year, three of Habitat's residences will be built with funding provided by a Community Development Block Grant that was awarded to the city of Cartersville in November 2009. Along with volunteering on a construction site, the public is encouraged to support the nonprofit through financial contributions and donating and purchasing items at its ReSale Store, 14 Eagle's Court in Cartersville. Open each Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., the store features a wide range of materials, such as clothing, building supplies, furniture and TVs. Donations can be delivered during its operating hours and everything is tax deductible. For large-scale items, Habitat can make arrangements to pick up the contributions at the donor's location.
For more information about Habitat, contact Hooker at 770-382-6293 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.