Some 40 residents gathered Monday night to discuss bringing Habitat for Humanity to Dawson County.
Organized by Mark Weaver, pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church, the exploratory meeting was intended to gauge interest in building homes for local low-income families through the national, nonprofit organization.
“This is something I’ve always wanted to do in our community,” said Carol Houtchens, who has worked with Habitat for Humanity through her employer.
She attended the meeting with her husband, Jim, who added that it was a “good cause and something needed.”
Dawson County has an affiliation with Habitat for Humanity in Forsyth County, where dozens of homes have been built through the Christian housing ministry in the last several years.
Although Dawson County is a Forsyth County affiliate, the organization has not built any homes locally.
Habitat for Humanity of Hall County built a home in Dawson County last year for a single father with two children, one of whom has special needs.
Weaver said the focus of Forsyth’s Habitat affiliate has been in that county. But, he said, “There is a need for affordable housing here. There’s always the need here.”
That sentiment echoed throughout the meeting.
“I’ve been blessed with a home and wish everyone could be so blessed,” said Bob McMahon, a youth leader at Bethel United Methodist Church.
Habitat for Humanity seeks to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness in the world by building affordable housing through volunteer labor and partnerships with families in need.
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.
“We live in one of the most affluent counties in all of Georgia,” Weaver said. “But in spite of that affluence, there are a number of people here that live in substandard housing. There are some homes that some people would be shocked to find in this county.”
Weaver next plans to meet with regional Habitat leaders to determine the next step in the process. Another meeting with potential local volunteers would follow.
Attendees Monday said they were ready to move forward, regardless of help from an affiliate partner.
“People are struggling,” Weaver said. “They’ve rented their whole lives, only know generational poverty and never get to the place where they can own their own home.”
Said Becky Holbrook: “Those are the people we’d like to help.”