‘It’s a blessing,’ Habitat for Humanity adapting to build homes during the pandemic

Updated: Dec. 23, 2020 at 5:49 PM EST
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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - When the pandemic hit in March, Charleston Habitat for Humanity’s work on a home in North Charleston was put on hold for about seven months while staff figured out how to continue safely working.

It’s just one example of the challenges the organization faced this year as staff and volunteers work to build more homes for people in need.

The home is located in the Joppa Way neighborhood and once it’s complete, single mom Olga Brown will move in with her two children.

“The happiness! Just to know that it’s getting closer and closer, even though with COVID and everything going on, it’s a blessing,” Brown said.

Director of Development with Charleston Habitat for Humanity Kristen Williams said they have overcome a lot throughout the build.

“We laid the foundation for her house in February and March, and then kind of had to sit for for about seven months before we got to get back on building... And then the cost of materials, particularly lumber, increased 30 percent during COVID,” Williams said. Masks are required at the work site and the amount of volunteers is limited on site at one time.

Brown has tried to find affordable housing and when the applications for Habitat for Humanity opened up, she took a leap of faith and applied.

“When I got the letter back in the mail I was like, ‘Oh my God! Oh my God, it’s about to happen.’ So it’s been really really good. It’s, it’s just been everything,” she added. She is most looking forward to giving her children their own space.

“I’m excited because the two babies are going to have their own room,” Brown said. “Thank you, thank you, volunteers, thank you to the Habitat family, I just want to thank everyone that took part in making this dream come true.”

The goal is to have the home finished by the spring of 2021. Williams said they hope to continue pushing through the pandemic to help those who need it.

“Every year we see an increased need, particularly in the Charleston-area, with critical home repairs, especially on the peninsula those older homes,” Williams added. “So, we continue to grow our repair program. And we also are building more houses. We used to build about one to two a year, now we’re building two to four. And that obviously depends on on funding and volunteer support.”

You can read more about Charleston Habitat for Humanity’s services and how to help by clicking: here.

To qualify you have to be between 35 and 60 percent of the area median income which is adjusted by family size. Future homeowners also must complete 400 “sweat equity” hours where they volunteer in the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store and help with other habitat home builds as well as their own. You also have to have lived or worked in the Charleston-area for at least six months and have good credit.

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