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Habitat families sweat the little stuff

May 26, 2017

New #RockbridgeAreaHabitat homeowners must all work 200 hours per adult on the building site. Few come with any construction skills, but that doesn't worry Construction Supervisor Kelly Wallace and Assistant Supervisor McKee Dunlap. 


"I can't measure and I'm definitely not getting on a roof!" said Jeannie M. before starting construction. When it came time to install the roof, she stepped gingerly up the ladder; then she climbed back down. A volunteer builder encouraged her, so she tried again. 


"I'm going to try this for me. This really, really helped me."


Sweat equity, including attending 27 hours of financial education, is one of three criteria for eligible homeowners. The other two are having a need such as unsafe or overcrowded living conditions; and ability to pay a low-interest, subsidized mortgage from USDA/Rural Development.


On the day Mac and Olivia S. signed the Habitat partnership agreement, Mac was bouncing in his seat. 


After asking about the sweat equity hours, he and Olivia needed to get 400 hours completed between them, he said, “I’ll probably being doing all of them. When can I get started?”


While his ambition was admirable, Lynn Leech, RAHfH executive director, suggested Olivia take part in construction as well. Olivia readily agreed.


For working people, 200 hours of extra work can take some time to complete. That's why each family also works on other houses. For Jeannie, Mac and Olivia, those houses will belong to their neighbors in Greenhouse Village. That's why Mac carefully measures where to drill the holes when hanging a storm door closer on Jeannie's side door. He sweats the small stuff because Habitat doesn't just build houses, it builds communities.