Season of wishes: Habitat helps others get opportunity to own house
Published 12:00 am Monday, December 1, 2014
NATCHEZ — Tis the season of giving, and Habitat for Humanity’s Natchez chapter are working to give a family the greatest gift of all — a home.
Dewey and Arnette McGee and their four teenage children, Juan Hawkins, 17; Javonte Hawkins, 16; Damion Hawkins, 14 and Anthony Jackson, 15 — will be the recipients of a Habitat for Humanity house on Martin Luther King Street in Natchez.
“We have been living in the projects for about 10, 12 plus years,” Arnette said. “It gets a little rough and this location gives (our children) a better environment — a place they can call their own instead of being around riffraff.”
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As the McGee’s look to give their children more stability, Dewey said they will have a cookout and celebrate as a family once the house is complete around March or April.
For 19 years, Habitat for Humanity has built houses for families who meet certain requirements through an application process, which isn’t easy, said Habitat for Humanity Natchez chapter secretary Duncan McFarlane.
“What we are looking for is somebody with stable employment that can afford to make the mortgage payments,” McFarlane said. “Then we pick the family that we think is most in need, and the McGee family has four teenage boys.”
In addition to meeting application requirements, each adult must put in 250 hours of work to the home, which McFarlane calls “sweat equity.”
“Since the family doesn’t make a down payment, they have to put some equity into the house,” McFarlane said. “We don’t have any closing costs — we finance 100 percent of the mortgage and the entrance rate is zero — that is why the payments are about $350 per month.”
McFarlane said most Habitat for Humanity home owners come from rental homes where they are paying close to $350 per month for what he calls, a “substandard rental house.”
Habitat for Humanity Natchez chapter President Andrew Calvit said building affordable and efficient homes gives the family the right to ownership.
Calvit said the non-profit organization will always need money and more volunteers.
“It’s a sense of giving back to the community,” Calvit said. “Also it gives you a chance to learn how to do something for yourself and save money. You can come out here, volunteer and learn a trade.”
Every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday Calvit said volunteers work to build the house from the ground up, with donations coming from grants and personal and business donations — all donations go toward building supplies.
Donations can be sent to P.O. Box 100, Natchez, MS. 39120.
For more information on volunteering or making a donation, call 601-807-4956 or 601-445-8639.