Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Cratering economy puts even Habitat homes out of reach

You know the economy is completely in the toilet when applications for low-cost, no-interest-loan Habitat homes are down.

From the Bowling Green (KY) Daily News:

They just want to help people get homes - but a plunging economy has made that task more difficult for local Habitat for Humanity officials.

"We are in the business of helping people have homes," said Don Ritter, secretary of the board and chairman of the family selection committee. "We really want to help them have a home, that's what we're about."

The number of qualified applicants for a Habitat home plummeted last year, leaving Habitat officials searching for local residents who can apply.

"We are desperately wanting to get applications," Ritter said. "We're trying to find people who might possibly qualify for a home."

When Ritter began working with the family selection committee about five years ago, about 25 people applied for a Habitat home. Last year, the organization received just four applications.

"And this is the part that hurts," Ritter said. "They all failed the test."

To receive a Habitat home, applicants must meet three basic qualifications: They must need a home; they must be willing to help construct their home; and they must be able to make payments on the home.

"These are not giveaway homes," Ritter said. "These are homes people purchase with a non-interest loan from Habitat."

The ability to purchase a home is one qualification some might lack in the midst of rising unemployment.

"The economy, I'm sure has been hurting us some," Ritter said, "and it's probably getting worse."


But the local branch is not the only Habitat organization suffering from a lack of applicants.

Mendoza said he contacted Habitat's state executive director, who said others are experiencing a decrease in applications, and neighboring organizations are "going through the same issues," he said.


The city recently donated five lots to Habitat, and the organization is eyeing a few prospects, who hopefully will apply, Mendoza said.

"Right now is a perfect time to buy," he said. "People are just holding back."