Habitat for Humanity of Denton County has a problem.
The group has donations to help fund new homes and volunteers to build them, but there aren’t many people trying to live in those homes.
Roxayne Strong, family services administrator, said the organization opened the application process in May, and so far it has received only a few applicants, a far cry from years past.
“Usually, we’re bombarded with hundreds of applicants that ultimately get denied or not accepted into the program for a number of reasons,” Strong said. “Since we opened up the application process in the beginning of May, we had maybe four applications that came in. We’re a little stunned and at a loss for words and a loss for ideas on how we’re going to get folks in.”
Habitat homes go to qualifying families who must put in several hundred hours of work building their own house or another Habitat home, then assume an affordable, interest-free mortgage after moving in.
To qualify, applicants must meet certain criteria, including meeting certain income guidelines, having worked with their current employer for six months and having reasonable credit.
“We look for a pattern of debt abuse, and that often has a bearing on whether or not they get approved,” Strong said. “Often times [applicants] are employed for six months and everything is in place, then the credit comes back for us.”
Strong said credit reports are gaining a lot more weight in the approval process these days. She said very seldom does the criminal background check come back as a problem, leading her to speculate that the economy has some bearing on the number of applicants.
“I think if the economy would turn faster, we would get a bigger response. It’s interesting,” she said. “Our volunteers are here; the economy is not as much affecting our donations. We have houses, we have sponsors — we don’t have families to put into those houses.”
The organization’s current build site is located at 1014 E. Prairie St., sponsored by Denton Bible Church and Northstar Bank. There are plans for a build in Sanger in June, as well as additional homes in Denton that will be rehabilitated for future qualified homeowners. Construction in Lewisville is planned for the fall.
Don Lindsay, a member of the eight-person committee that screens applicants, said the agency is trying to get the word out by placing applications in Goodwill stores and other locations.
“We also get some referrals from other agencies in town occasionally, like school counselors who know about Habitat and encounter families through students and such. We’re working at it,” he said.
Strong said they would also be making announcements in some local churches to encourage responses, in addition to taking other measures to get people to apply.
“Even if they are not sure if their credit is good or bad, I would suggest they go on and apply,” he said. “I would suggest any and everybody apply and see what happens.”
BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
HOW TO APPLY
Habitat for Humanity of Denton County has displays at several sites where people can pick up a pre-screening checklist, which includes detailed instructions, to begin the application process.
* Goodwill, 2030 W. University Drive, 940-566-0398
* Interfaith Ministries, 1109 N. Elm St., Suite 1, 940-565-5479
* Goodwill, 919 W. Main St. in Lewisville, 972-436-3181
* Old Town ReSale by CCA, 128 S. Mill St. in Lewisville