The New Year ‘built up’ to be an exciting start for Whitney. The single mother of three daughters now owns her very own home thanks to Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake, which brings people together to build homes, communities, and hope.

In December, Whitney was joined by elected officials, funders and community partners as they welcomed Whitney and her family to the Belair-Edison neighborhood. The event marked Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake’s first in-person home dedication ceremony since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since 1982, Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake has built more than 780 homes in 19 communities, providing a brighter future for 2,500 children and family members.

“I was first introduced to Habitat for Humanity as an undergrad student at Morgan when they were starting to develop homes over in that area,” recalled Whitney. “I liked the mission and the overall opportunities that came with Habitat for Humanity. With me having student loans, I also liked the zero percent interest rate which fit into my long-term financial goals. My sister also has a Habit for Humanity home. Habitat for Humanity offers great opportunities for those of us who don’t think that we will be able to own a home.”

Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake participants must complete homebuyer education and financial literacy courses as a part of the rigorous affordable homeownership program. All homebuyers receive a 0% interest mortgage and a mortgage payment that never exceeds 30% of their annual income.

“The program is great for people like myself who are in unique situations,” said Whitney. “I am a single parent of three who went back to school to further my education. A high student loan can oftentimes be a barrier when you want to move forward with the next phase of your life. Habitat for Humanity gives you hope and opportunity.”

Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake recognizes that having a safe, decent and affordable place to live is one of the most fundamental needs in life. Through their homeownership program, the organization extends the dream of homeownership to low-to-moderate income families throughout Baltimore City and surrounding counties. Habitat homebuyers such as Whitney play a hands-on role in the homeownership process, beginning with the sweat equity hours they perform, which includes working alongside volunteers to help build and renovate the places they will call home and working in the local Habitat ReStores.

“Habitat for Humanity is definitely a great program with great experiences,” said Whitney. “They don’t just throw you out there to the wolves and let you figure it out on your own. They equip you with the knowledge of home ownership and what to expect. One of the classes involved going into one of their homes. They went through all the maintenance that a home needs in order to keep it maintained.”

Whitney’s fully rehabilitated three-bedroom home features all new appliances, energy-efficient windows and central air conditioning.

Mike Posko is CEO of Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake.

 “I think for many individuals, the housing market for homeownership is priced out of their ability to buy a house,” said Posco. “We give a zero percent interest mortgage, which enables them to bring their monthly costs down in many cases, to a place where they are able to afford that house once they go through our program. The importance of that is building family wealth.”

He added, “There are studies that show that children that grow up under homeownership have a greater chance of graduating high school and going to college. The teenage pregnancy rate is also much lower. The general health of the family is much better, because in many cases, they’re not moving around from rental property to rental property and have a secure, safe home to live and grow up in.”

In addition to building homes, Habitat Chesapeake operates six ReStores which sell new and gently used furniture, building materials, appliances and more at discount prices. ReStores serve as an important resource for low-income families, as well as a critical source of funding to support their work.

In 2016, Habitat Chesapeake also launched a workforce development program, HabiCorps, which provides 10.5 months of hands-on instruction in carpentry and construction management to low-income, often previously incarcerated individuals. Trainees receive AmeriCorps stipends and benefits and learn while building Habitat homes.

For more information about Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake visit https://www.habitatchesapeake.org/.

Ursula V. Battle
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