Volunteers interested in building low-cost homes for needy families have taken the first steps toward developing a Habitat for Humanity affiliate in Dawson County.
The local group met with directors from the Forsyth and Hall County chapters last week to discuss the roles each organization will take in helping to bring homes to the Dawsonville area.
“Habitat for Humanity of Forsyth County is still fairly new, so they’ll be able to understand and help us with some of the organization issues we’ll face getting started here in Dawson County,” said Steve Holder, a planner with the city of Dawsonville. “Hall County has been doing this for a long time, so they’ll be able to give us operational advice as well,” he said.
Dawson County joins Forsyth, Cherokee and North Fulton in Habitat’s North Central Georgia division, which has built more than 150 homes throughout the region since 2006.
Forsyth/Dawson Area Director Jackie Johnson said she looks forward to working with the group of volunteers in Dawson County to provide even more homes to families in the years to come.
“We’ve tried before to get this up and going, but haven’t been able to in the past. This group seems determined and very excited,” she said.
Late last year, a group of residents, led by Holder and Mark Weaver, pastor at Grace Presbyterian, called an informal meeting to determine a community interest in the not-for-profit organization.
Holder said, so far, there has been a tremendous amount of support for a Dawsonville affiliate. “We had about 40 people at our first organizational meeting, and the ones interested in taking on committee roles met with us last week,” he said.
The group is now moving forward in the planning stages, and trying to identify committee members who will oversee the main components of the operation, which include fundraising, land/home acquisition and administration.
Identifying and selecting the families to receive the homes also plays an important role in the process.
Those selected for homeownership must invest in the home through “sweat equity” and also contribute $1,000 as a down payment. Monthly mortgage payments range between $500 and $750.
“I want people to realize we don’t give these houses away. This is a hand up, not a handout,” Johnson said.
Habitat has built close to 300,000 houses around the world, providing more than 15 million people in more than 3,000 communities with safe, decent and affordable shelter.
Despite accolades naming Dawson County one of the most affluent in north Georgia, Weaver said most people would be surprised at the number of people living in substandard housing in the county.
“People are struggling. They’ve rented their whole lives, only know generational poverty and never get to the place where they can own their own home. There’s a real need,” he said.
For more information on Habitat for Humanity of Dawson County or to join the group of volunteers, call Holder at (706) 265-3256.
E-mail Michele Hester at firstname.lastname@example.org.