This spring Charleston Habitat for Humanity will break ground on its first Veterans Build home in North Charleston, which is sponsored by Publix Supermarket Charities. Veterans Build is a comprehensive initiative to provide volunteer, housing, and employment opportunities to U.S. veterans, military service members and their families. The organization expects to break ground on its second Veterans Build site in downtown Charleston later this year.
The problem? They do not currently have veterans who will receive the homes. “We have tried to promote this incredible program with media outlets and veterans groups in the area, but have had very few qualified applicants,” said Lynn Bowley, Executive Director. “We’d love to find a veteran and their family selected to live in the home before we break ground in May.”
Nearly 1.5 million U.S. veterans live in poverty, many because of the cost of housing. South Carolina is home to 276,000 veteran homeowners, with 63,000 living in homes with at least one major problem (e.g., quality, crowding, cost). Twenty-two percent of veterans pay more than 30% of their gross income, which is the housing affordability limit, according to housing advocates.
Charleston County has over 31,000 veteran residents, or 11% of the population (compared to the national average of 9%). Over 89% of those veterans are over 35, and over 61% are 55 years of age or older. Although there is a local focus on affordable housing in Charleston, the need still greatly outweighs the solutions. For homeowners living on a fixed income, the cost associated with paying for housing, food, medication, taxes, and basic utilities takes the majority of their money.
What are the benefits of partnering with Charleston Habitat for Humanity?
– Offering a hand-up, not a hand-out
– Applicants are applying for a 30-year affordable mortgage
– Sold at no-profit (average cost $80-85K)
– Financed at 0% interest
– Affordable mortgage payments (average $500 per month)
– 2nd forgivable mortgage, forgiven when 1st is paid off
– No prepayment penalty
To qualify, a veteran must meet the family income level criteria between 35-80% of the area median income ($74,500 for a family of 4); they must be able to afford a down payment of $1,500 and monthly payments of $500 without spending more than 30% of their monthly income on mortgage payments; have good rental history and acceptable credit history; be a US citizen or permanent resident and have lived or worked in Charleston, North Charleston or West Ashley for at least 6 months; complete financial budgeting classes and a will workshop, along with learning how to maintain their new home; have significant housing need such as overcrowding, excessive monthly costs, and/or substandard living conditions; willingness to partner with Charleston Habitat for Humanity and commit to 350 hours of “sweat equity” volunteering with the organization.
To learn more about Veterans Build or to receive an application, please contact Candice Sims at [email protected] or (843) 203-4022.