Through Habitat for Humanity two local residents, Marie and Richard Harding, 64 and 80 respectively, will become first time homeowners this year when their house completes construction this December.
The Hardings have lived in Pell City for two years after moving here from Fairfield and have mostly taken up residences in apartment buildings, which do not always offer accessibility to those, like Marie, who possess disabilities.
Marie contacted Dave Clark through her church, Lakewood Presbyterian, when she found out he had worked with Habitat for Humanity for some time, hoping he could provide insight into procuring a home for themselves. After discussing it, they made the decision to apply, a process which can take up to one year. The applicants must have good credit, pass background checks, take classes relating to budgeting and finance and give back in the form of volunteer hours. Marie herself helped organize records in the home office. In addition, they must make a down payment which can itself be made in multiple payments. The interest-free mortgage is held by Habitat for Humanity.
Marie said, “Our monthly payment will only be about $500 per month, and that doesn’t just include the mortgage, but also property taxes, unless we’re exempt, and termite inspection.”
Jean Speer, the volunteer coordinator for the project and board member for Habitat for Humanity, says they are excited because this house will be completely handicap accessible for Marie, especially front-facing buttons on the oven, a much safer option than the oven she cooks with in her current residence and linoleum floors which make it easier for her to use her artificial legs than the carpet in her current apartment.
Jean Speer said, “Something most people don’t know is there are choices in how the home is prepared.” Homeowners can choose all the amenities as any prospective homeowner when building a new house.
The Hardings have received support from various local groups such as trade school students, the fire department, law enforcement, local businesses, high school students and local churches. Even in the wind and rain, volunteers from Lakewood Presbyterian showed up to put up the walls after framing took place the day before.
“Of course, safety is a concern,” said Speer, “the fire department allows us to use their facilities for shelter in the case of severe weather.”
The Hardings hope to have their new home completed by the beginning of December before they are forced to move out of their current accommodations pending renovations in their apartment building. Their home will be in the Mill Village. Building days are Thursday, Friday and Saturday of each week. No prior experience is required as licensed builders are on site to provide training and supervision for anyone who wants to get involved.
Habitat for Humanity partnered with the Chapel in the Pines, Pell City First United Methodist Church and Grill to Build in preparing the Hardings’ property.