A labor of love was completed and dedicated to a happy family on Thursday night, when Habitat for Humanity handed over the keys of a new home to Antoinette Ingram and her four boys.
“This house is a beautiful example of what can be built when Habitat for Humanity partners with a family who wants safe, decent, and affordable housing,” said Chris Carpenter, affiliate operations manager Habitat for Humanity of the NC Sandhills. “It also demonstrates what can be achieved when Habitat for Humanity, local businesses, other non-profits and individuals within the Richmond County community work together for a common cause.”
It took several months, a couple hundred volunteers and about $70,000 to get the four bedroom, two bathroom home completed.
The lot, located on Raleigh Street in Hamlet, was part of a 20,000 square foot lot purchased by Habitat and split into two properties.
“The home in front of this one is also a Habitat build,” said Carpenter. “Both homes sit on 10,000 square feet of property.”
Ingram, who lived in an apartment for years with her sons, is excited about having a yard for her family.
“We’re set back off the road, so it’s very quiet and safe,” she said. “My boys will be allowed to come and go without restriction. There were a lot of rules at the apartment we lived in. There were no grills allowed, no basketball goals and no trampolines. I think we’re just going to go crazy this year, and start doing the things we never could before.”
Ingram said her boys are already begging for a dog, but she’s not ready to go quite that far yet.
Her extended family is happy for her too — her mother documented the event with a camcorder, asking everyone present to state their name and what they did.
“It was really sweet that her mom made sure to remember everyone who was involved in this,” said Carpenter.
She kept the house a secret from her kids as long as she could, planning to surprise them at the dedication, but she finally broke down and told them on Easter Sunday.
“They have been so excited,” she said. “Now the two older boys will have their own rooms, and only the babies will share a room. Oh, they are happy about that!”
The family was still moving in on Friday, and planned to spend their first night in their new home that evening.
“I’ve never lived in Hamlet before but I like it — it’s very peaceful,” she said.
Ingram, who was employed by Walmart for five years before taking a job at Belk’s, had to commit 300 hours to helping build the home and had to have 15 hours of home ownership classes.
A misconception about Habitat for Humanity homes is that they are simply given away to needy families. Actually, families that receive the homes pay the organization back.
“We review applications to look for families that make enough income to afford payments, but not enough to maybe make that transition out of an apartment or other living situation into a home of their own,” said Carpenter. “Once we have the applicants narrowed down, a five-person committee, made up of Richmond County residents who are not affiliated with Habitat, interview them and make the final decisions.”
Part of the process of choosing recipients means making sure they will be able to pay for the homes.
“People think we just give away houses,” said Carpenter. “We don’t. These are working families who just need a hand up, not a hand out. We get them going, and make the payments affordable. We do not charge interest on the homes, which is something that makes a huge difference. They also pay insurance and taxes just like everyone else.”
The payments go into the Fund for Habitat, and are used to build more homes. The net income from the Habitat Re-Store in Rockingham is also used for building homes.
“This is the ninth house we’ve dedicated in Richmond County,” said Carpenter. “The completion of this project makes me very proud of our organization and of the community that I have called home for almost all of my life.”
Habitat for Humanity will start construction of its next home the week of June 18.
“I’m so excited that we’re already up and running on another project already,” said Carpenter.
The home will be on Clark Street in Rockingham. Anyone interested in helping can call volunteer coordinator Judie Wiggins at 910-295-1934.
— Staff Writer Kelli Easterling can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at email@example.com.