“We’re doing more than building homes.”
By Mary Louise Resch
When people see his white pick-up truck rolling through their neighborhood, it’s common to hear them yell, “Mr. Roy!” as they happily wave and smile. That’s because Central South Carolina Habitat for Humanity Executive Director, Roy Kramer and his team have helped hundreds of Midlands families find the stability and confidence that living in a safe, clean, affordable home provide.
“We’re not giving people homes.” Kramer is quick to point out that people who move in to Habitat homes have been in the program for at least two years.
“Habitat homeowners put in hundreds of hours of community service, take home maintenance classes and financial education classes to help clean up any credit problems they may have,” Kramer says. Habitat homes are not free. Habitat homeowners pay an affordable mortgage based on their income.
“Instead of paying $800 a month for an apartment they do not own, they pay on average about $400 a month on their home, gaining equity and savings for the future,” Kramer says.
“I paid off my mortgage,” Alma Wallace said as she raised her arms in the air in a victory pose. Wallace became a Habitat homeowner in the late 1990s and finished her last mortgage payment on her birthday in 2019. “I used to live in an apartment with rats and roaches. I won’t ever forget what Habitat did for me,” Wallace said.
“We used to hear gunshots in our apartment complex all of the time,” another homeowner said. She and her two young daughters moved into the Habitat home they helped build in 2020. “All I thought about over the last few years working through the Habitat program is my girls. I want them to have a happy life.”
SC Habitat does more than build homes
“We’re known for building homes,” Kramer says. Now Central SC Habitat for Humanity is also a Neighborhood Revitalization Affiliate. That means the Habitat team is going door to door in neighborhoods where they are building and offering to make needed repairs on other homes too.
“Our goal is to literally change neighborhoods one block at a time,” Kramer says.
Changing neighborhoods means helping communities, which include veterans and seniors, with everything from building wheelchair ramps to painting front porches to helping people fix a roof. Central SC Habitat for Humanity, the volunteers who work on the projects, and the partners who help finance them, are an example of community in action.
“It’s about helping our neighbors,” Kramer says.
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