Habitat in need of land, volunteers

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 11, 2009

NATCHEZ — It’s been 16 years since Natchez-Adams County Habitat for Humanity dedicated its first house to a family in need.

Since that time, Habitat has dedicated 12 more houses, and will begin construction on its 14th house on Smith Street Jan. 2, secretary and treasurer Duncan McFarlane said.

“The need for decent, affordable housing is so great that I don’t think we will ever run out of applications,” McFarlane said. “I just regret we can only build one house a year.

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“We’re trying to get as many people as we can into a decent house. That’s our mission, and we’re going after it as best as we can given our resources.”

The Natchez Habitat chapter, founded in 1991, consists of volunteer board members and construction workers who donate more than 3,000 hours of their time to each house.

McFarlane said families who apply for a Habitat house are selected based on more than need.

“What they’re really applying for is a loan,” McFarlane said of the families.

“They fill out the application, we process it and when it’s time to build another house, we go through the applications and select the family we think is the most needy, but also able to pay the mortgage note.

“We don’t give houses away. We sell them at a price we think is affordable and finance them at a zero percent interest rate for 25 years.”

McFarlane said Habitat is preparing to build its 14th house on the last of seven lots it purchased on Smith Street.

“We’re down to the last lot we own on Smith Street,” McFarlane said. “If anybody is interested in donating a lot or selling us a lot at a reasonable price, please call us. We’re almost desperate for land at this point.”

In addition to land, Habitat seeks monetary donations and volunteers to continue its mission of providing safe, affordable housing. McFarlane estimates donations are down approximately 25 percent this year.

“Like all non-profits, we always need financial donations, but we also need volunteer construction workers,” McFarlane said. “(Volunteers) don’t need any special skills or special tools. We need them to physically come out to the work site and help us build the house.”

For more information about Habitat, call McFarlane at 601-445-8639.