More people apply but fewer qualify for Habitat Homes

By Shayla Reaves - bio | email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE)- Applications are up Habitat for Humanity but it's not translating into more homes.

Poor credit is to blame for fewer people qualifying for the program and the company is building fewer homes because of it.

"In 2008 we were the 12th largest builder in Metro Louisville with 28 homes. In 2009, we were the ninth largest builder in Metro Louisville with 22 homes," Habitat for Humanity Louisville Director Rob Locke said.

Pressures of the economy also find some current homeowners struggling to pay their mortgages. Habitat for Humanity depends on those dollars to build new houses.

"Where we might have seen a 30-day delinquency, the same family may have a 60 or a 90 or a 120-day delinquency," said Janel Temple, Habitat for Humanity director of outreach and family services.

The concern was so great, company officials moved the bank program out of the family services division to the finance department. It's a change made in the last couple of years as a result of the changing economy.

Locke said the company also developed a "Helping Hand of Habitat" program this year. The focus is no longer just on building new homes, but also rehabs, repairs, recycles and financial education.

"A 20-year mortgage is a big deal and while we are the ultimate work-out bank, we're still a little-bitty bank. Even zero interest mortgages need to be paid," said Locke."Those families making their payments help build their neighbors' homes."

Courtney Dale and her neighbor Madina Hassan are nearing completion for their homes on West Madison Street. Dale is a mother of one who qualified for the home she hopes to share with her daughter.

"It's a dream come true," Dale said.

Hassan, a Somali translator, has already helped 15 families apply for Habitat homes. She is ready for her own.

"It's a beautiful house," Hassan said of the house she plans to share with her sons and mother.

"The qualified home buyer is the gold in the market place," Locke said.

Copyright 2010 WAVE News. All rights reserved.