By Charles Petty

Local nonprofit and government leaders gathered on Monday at a lot on Crestview Drive in Sanford to celebrate a milestone on the part of Lee County’s Habitat for Humanity chapter.

The lot on Crestview was the site of a ground-breaking for a new home in the neighborhood which is being constructed by Habitat for Humanity in an effort to bring affordable housing to areas in the community that need it most.

The construction on the home, long delayed due to COVID restrictions, will be for Sanford native Tyesha Roberts and her family.

“It has been a long journey to this moment and it has certainly been worth it,” she said.

The home is the 40th that Habitat has constructed in Lee County since the non-profit set up shop here in 1998. Their goal is to be able to construct affordable housing so that those who are financially insecure can have a safe, affordable, environmentally friendly house to call home. The process to apply is for those who deemed “financially insecure” – mainly mainly those who have been paying more than 30 percent of their income for housing and who have a limited salary.

Habitat’s family selection committee helps to find homeowners based on the applicants’ level of need and their ability to repay a mortgage through an affordable payment plan laid out by the non-profit. COVID restrictions made the process rather slow and only recently has the approval process gotten back to normal. Each year, HUD releases a report for what the median income is per community. In Sanford, the median income is $66,300. With so many incomes on the lower end of the economic scale, having housing opportunities like Habitat’s is important to ensuring future generations can become homeowners.

The labor of volunteers and partner families, efficient building methods, modest house sizes, and no-profit loans make it affordable for low-income families to purchase Habitat houses.

Kimberly Rau, the executive director for Habitat for Humanity in Lee County, said she was excited about the latest project.

“Having affordable housing a very smart investment,” she said. “When the family can have housing that they aren’t spending too much money on, the car can be repaired and maintained, you have a way to get your children to school so they can get ahead on their education, it changes the family generationally because they are building wealth in the equity of the home. It is a generational change for both the family and the community at large.”

The event had around a dozen local leaders including Sanford Mayor Rebecca Wyhof Salmon. She along with the Roberts family and other Habitat volunteers broke ground on the property for the upcoming house.

Habitat’s homeowner selection is managed at the local level, through their hundreds of local Habitat for Humanity locations all over the U.S. and around the world. For more information and to learn more about the process or how you can apply, call 1-800-HABITAT (1-800-422-4828).