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We know the Habitat model works, particularly due to the investment required of our partner families who eventually earn (through sweat equity and homeownership classes) the opportunity to buy their own home.
One of the common misconceptions is that Habitat homes are free -- our homes aren't free. In fact, Habitat homeowners pay a mortgage just like homeowners who have a conventional home loan.
The difference is a Habitat home mortgage is zero-percent interest and the payments on our homes are often less expensive that the amount our families were paying to live in substandard, rental housing.
As homeowners make their mortgage payments, that revenue stream is converted into funds for new Habitat homes -- a pay-it-forward model.
Soon after our Executive Director Lee Close accepted his role, he had a note on his desk to return a phone call. After a few days, Lee and the other party were able to connect.
"I'm sorry you've had trouble reaching me," the voice on the other end said. "I'm in Afghanistan."
The call was from Felix Harris, the son of a current Habitat homeowner. Harris is retired from the military and currently works as a military contractor in Afghanistan.
Mary Linder, Felix's mother, raised her two children for a short time in government housing before learning about the Habitat program years ago. Felix and his sister were raised in their Habitat home.
"Moving into our Habitat home was a turning point for us," Felix said. "We were able to grow and thrive."
Felix called Lee to purchase a small portion of property that was connected to Ms. Linder's home as a way to "give back to their mother."
Mary Linder is now part of an elite group of 25 Habitat Spartanburg homeowners who have fully paid off their mortgages and own their homes free and clear.
The Habitat model works to build generations -- to increase the expectations to include homeownership.