110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
Finally home in Orange City, thanks to Habitat for Humanity
posted Aug 27, 2013 - 10:37:21am
Orange City has a new family of neighbors. Patrice, D'Niya, D'Asia and D'Zaria McDowell were presented the keys to their new home Aug. 17.
The house at 1665 19th St., was built by the Southwest Volusia chapter of Habitat for Humanity. Habitat for Humanity's vision is a world where everyone has a decent place to live.
The worldwide, nonprofit ecumenical Christian organization fulfills this vision by building homes for families that meet three basic criteria.
The first requirement is that the family's current living situation must be inadequate. According to Debbie Custer, Southwest Volusia Habitat for Humanity's office manager, the organization often serves families who are living with friends or family members. Sometimes an entire family will be living in one bedroom, she said.
The next requirement is income. The family must fall within income guidelines. For a family of four, such as the McDowell family, the minimum income would be $23,300, and the maximum would be $34,740.
Custer said the minimum-income requirement is in place because the family must be able to pay the mortgage every month. Habitat for Humanity doesn't give homes to people. The organization has the houses built with many donated materials and mostly volunteer labor, and sells them to the families at cost, with no interest.
Also, Custer noted, the family is responsible for maintenance or repairs to the home, so they must have the funds.
The last requirement is that the family must be willing to partner with Habitat for Humanity. Each family is required to put hours of "sweat equity" into the building of their own home, as well as assist with other homes.
Custer said Patrice McDowell was required to volunteer 250 hours, because she is a single parent. Other families are required to volunteer 200 hours per adult.
Also, prospective Habitat homeowners are required to complete classes provided by Habitat. They are taught all about homeownership, and topics include simple repair and maintenance, along with life skills like resume-writing, interviewing and budgeting. Habitat hopes to add classes on wills and estate planning.
Normally, homes take three to six months to build, but the process depends on the homeowner applicants and how quickly they complete their part.
The McDowell house took a little longer than usual, because of the current tenant building her home first on the land where the McDowell home was to be constructed.
Turquoise the gopher tortoise had built her burrow smack in the middle of the lot. Gopher tortoises are an endangered species, so Turquoise had to be moved before Habitat for Humanity could get permits to build.
Gopher-tortoise burrows are deep. John Wilson Plumbing of DeLand donated a backhoe and operator at no charge for the digging, and Tom Roberts of E Sciences in DeLand donated his time to supervise the move. A fence had to be built around the construction site, and time and labor for the fence were donated by Florida Silt Fence.
Turquoise now resides at 1665 1/2 19th St. in Orange City.
After Turquoise was moved, construction began on the McDowells' new home, with the help of volunteers, including some from Women Build.
Women Build is a group of women from all walks of life who want to learn construction skills. They help Habitat build homes throughout the community. During 2013, Women Build volunteers have been wearing pink hard hats during construction.
Information on Habitat programs in Southwest Volusia can be obtained at www.swvhabitat.org.
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