Published January 1, 2014
Christmas comes early for two new homeowners
By Andy Kozlowski firstname.lastname@example.org
MADISON HEIGHTS — Julia Boyd is a single mother of four children — ages 11, 10, 5 and 3 — who wanted her children to have a stable, cozy place to call home.
Working full-time as a homecare worker, she had been living out of one bedroom in her parent’s mobile home, since her rental home had been flooded and needed repairs.
Wanting to take charge of her family’s future, she turned to Habitat for Humanity of Oakland County (HFHOC), and by combining her strength with theirs, everyone worked together to create her new home in the 30000 block of Alger Street, dedicated Dec. 19.
“I just want to say thank you. Without your volunteering and helping me, I wouldn’t have made it this far. I would’ve been lost,” Boyd said to the crowd of volunteers gathered in her living room. “It brought tears to my eyes when I was starting to paint the home because it’s really going to be mine, and I can work hard towards it. I learned a lot, learning to work on these things.”
The project was the last of three such projects in Madison Heights this year. In all, HFHOC has built or rehabbed nine homes in Madison Heights since 2010.
HFHOC, a Christian ministry dedicated to eradicating poverty housing in Oakland County and around the world, helps families with an income of 30-60 percent of the median income of the area in which they build.
In Madison Heights, a family of four at the high end of the spectrum, or 60 percent, would be $38,640 annual gross income. At the other end, this figure would be closer to $19,300 annual gross income.
HFHOC requires each family to have a stable source of income, may it be employment, disability, pension or another form, so that they can make their own mortgage payments, including an escrow for taxes and insurance. The mortgage is 0 percent.
“Habitat is unique in that, for every donated dollar that goes into the system to support a project, the money is returned to support another family in the future through the mortgage payments,” said Tim Ruggles, CEO and executive director of HFHOC, at a previous dedication. “So the return on investment is much greater than 100 percent of the dollar. It’s upwards of probably 150 or 175 percent, paying it forward to help another family through the mortgage stream income. It really makes the program unique.”
Families are also expected to invest 300 sweat equity hours, at their own build site or others, with less physically taxing options available in the office. Family and friends may do one-third of the sweat equity hours.
This is in keeping with the nonprofit’s motto, “a hand up, not a handout,” and helps strengthen the community by ensuring the homeowner is truly committed to their home.
Another Habitat dedication was in the 30000 block of Brush Street Dec. 17, just a couple of days prior to the Boyd dedication. The home belongs to Karl Jones, a full-time security guard with plans to go to college to study computer IT. As someone who grew up moving around a lot, it had been hard for him to make friends, but settling down in a home of his own will provide stability.
And earlier this summer, Michael Munger received his own Habitat home in the 20000 block of Osmun, dedicated Aug. 20.
“It’s been an incredible experience,” Munger previously said at the dedication. “Everybody did an excellent job — the quality of work, the time that they spent, you know, just away from their families and their friends and everything, just to help me achieve a dream.”
At the Boyd dedication, local artist Tim Yanke, of Park West Gallery, presented one of his “Yanke Doodles,” something he’s been doing for the new Habitat homeowners. The painting of an American flag featured a rainbow-hued border celebrating the diversity of the United States.
“These people might not have the discretionary income to go out and buy fine art — that’s not at the top of the list for them right now,” Yanke said. “So, if we can provide something that’s an original painting, or some kind of embellishment an artist has done, and help make the home feel like a home — home is where the art is, after all — and especially this time of the year, if I can donate some artwork, it’s the least I can do.”
For Boyd’s kids, who were having a blast running and rolling around the house, it was clear the place already felt like home.
“This is just a stable environment, for me and my children, as a single mother of four who had been hopping from home to home,” Boyd said. “I’m going to take care of it.”
For more information about Habitat for Humanity of Oakland County, visit www.habitatoakland.org.
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