Orange Habitat gets challenge

By Remy Adams

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — The Stewards Fund in Raleigh has offered the Habitat for Humanity of Orange County a $150,000 challenge grant order to buy land for new houses.

“We’ll have exhausted our lots by the spring season,” says Susan Levy, executive director.

Starting with its first house in 1987, Habitat has built 130 houses – 45 in two Chapel Hill neighborhoods, and 43 in Efland — and is working on six more.

It builds 13 to 16 houses a year.

Working with schools, churches and social groups that agree to raise half the cost of a home, Habitat volunteers and the family that is buying the home spend 16 weeks on average building it.

A Habitat house costs $67,500, compared to $375,000 for the average price of a house in Chapel Hill, and is financed over 20 to 30 years with a no-interest mortgage.

Payments are put into a rotating fund used to build more houses.

Habitat builds homes for families earning 50 percent or below median income, says Anne-Marie Vanaman, development director.

Levy says Habitat needs more lots to keep building, and a big challenge is finding and paying for land.

To secure the challenge grant, Habitat must raise $150,000 by January 16, 2006.

“It will have a significant impact on our ability to build houses next year,” says Vanaman.

Habitat has identified lots, including 18 in Hillsborough, that could ready by next fall.

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