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Habitat for Humanity gets funding to finish homes

By Billy Corriher

Constance Jacobs said the phrase "there's no place like home" has new meaning for her now that she actually owns the house she lives in.

"I've been truly blessed," she said. "I had never been a homeowner before."

Jacobs moved into a house built by Southern Crescent Habitat for Humanity last fall. Before moving in, Jacobs said she lived in an apartment with her 22-year-old daughter and her 4-year-old adopted son and daughter.

Jacob now lives in the Faith Park subdivision in one of 26 units that Habitat built there.

The project is still under way, but with the local economy struggling and donations down, Habitat was having trouble finding the money to finish the project, said Brenda Rayburn, executive director of the local chapter of Habitat.

"Our donations have dropped substantially," she said. "People don't have money to give."

The county board of commissioners on Tuesday approved an $80,000 grant to help Habitat complete the project, but Rayburn said the group is still in need.

Army Sgt. Maj. Thomas Gittemeier, who is stationed at Fort Gillem, has been volunteering with the local chapter for a little over 10 years. Gittemeier said Habitat's job has only gotten tougher as the county has grown since he started working here.

"There's a lot of people out there who work hard, but it's not enough for them to buy a home," he said.

Gittemeier, who has also served on the local chapter's board of directors, said Habitat builds the homes, and when the tenants move in, they pay back the costs of construction with no interest.

The units in the Faith Park subdivision are priced around $100,000, Gittemeier said, but residents will end up paying about half of that. It costs about $55,000 to build one of the basic, three-bedroom homes.

Families which purchase Habitat homes are chosen on the basis of housing need, ability to repay the no-interest mortgage and its willingness to work with Habitat on homes for other families.

Jacobs said owning her own home will give her family a stable home in a good neighborhood.

"Every time I've worked with Habitat, they've made me feel very special," she said. "This is the house that love built."