Since 2001, the Claremore Habitat for Humanity has completed 10 houses with partner families in Rogers County. The non-profit organization is currently working on number 11, which is expected to be completed in early February.
Executive Director Donna Fincannon said Habitat is always in need of volunteers for construction, as well as, assistance at the organization’s used building supply store, ReStore on 202 N. Owalla St.
Fincannon has volunteered for Habitat for Humanity in Claremore since 2004, and worked part-time as executive director — operating the facility — since 2008.
Sales from ReStore are used for the organization’s mission; providing solid, affordable homes for community members in need. Stock includes lighting fixtures, carpet, utilities, doors, plumbing supplies, flooring and more.
“The store helps on a variety of levels. One, you’ve got people that want to support and donate materials that they no longer need. Two, it helps people who need low-cost materials and it helps people who don’t want to throw materials they no longer use in the trash,” she said.
One of the misconceptions people have of Habitat for Humanity is that families receive homes for free.
“There are people that look for handouts because they don’t want to work, but there are people who just can’t make it on their own. What we look for are families that fit in our income range, who make a total of $14,000-40,000 a year,” said Fincannon. “They are below the median income and would not be a good risk for a bank or mortgage company to take to help them secure a home. They’re paying so much in rent, but they don’t have a lot left over for other things, or they’re paying less in rent, but they are living in a really unhealthy condition. So we look for what needs they have, and then they buy the house to be built.”
Homeowners work every Saturday along with volunteers to finish the house. After the house is completed and the homeowners have finished classes on finance and home maintenance, they begin paying their mortgage.
“The mortgage is a 20-year loan with zero percent financing and we don’t charge profit on the bill. Their mortgages have always been less than what their rent was before, and some about a quarter less than what they were paying,” said Fincannon. “They then have enough money to use on their family because their payment are so much lower.”
Mortgage payments go into a revolving fund for Humanity that is used to build more houses.
Habitat homes provide healthier living conditions for families living in low-cost homes, and can also lead to educational improvements for children.
“Children who live in habitat houses are about 30 percent more likely to graduate from high school compared to families with the same income level living in low-cost housing,” she said. “The kids have a more stable environment that they’re proud of creating more motivation to succeed.”
Habitat for Humanity volunteers help to eliminate sub-standard, unaffordable housing for neighbors in need. Local volunteers work every Saturday to meet a goal of completing one house a year, said Fincannon.
To get involved or for information on applying for a home building partnership with Habitat for Humanity Claremore, visit habitatclaremore.org or call (918) 691-2764.