"Our main goal with Habitat is to eliminate substandard housing in our area -- Bartow County and the city of Cartersville," said Robin Hooker, the local Habitat's executive director. "So we are extremely excited about being able to receive the funding. It's been very hard [in the past couple of years].
"There's just not a lot of funding out there for building houses. There's not a lot of funding out there period. ... We're just really excited about what's getting ready to take place in the city of Cartersville and working with the city of Cartersville to build houses for families in need."
The city was eligible to apply for the CDBG supplemental grant following a tornado a couple of years ago, which resulted in Cartersville being declared an emergency area. During the next two years, these federal funds could go toward the acquisition of property; demolition, if necessary; site preparation; and construction costs.
"In a sense, the grant was to help communities recover from the disaster that occurred," said Tom Quist, assistant to Cartersville's city manager. "So we decided that this would be a good opportunity to address some substandard housing in and around the North Towne area. We had identified several structures that were in serious disrepair and that rehabilitation wasn't really a good option.
"So we thought we would knock out two birds with one stone. Where possible, we would acquire properties that were appropriate for demolition and then replace them with affordable housing units. So the vast majority of this grant is going toward the Habitat project -- approximately $663,000 of the total [$748,897]."
The first of the six building sites is located on land owned by Habitat at 118 Courrant St. in Cartersville. Construction will begin April 2, with the keys scheduled to be turned over to future homeowner Becky Frasier six weeks later. Volunteers currently are being recruited to help build the 1,350-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bath home.
Since its inception in 1984, Habitat has constructed 34 residences. On average, 150 people apply each year, with 10 percent of the applications being further evaluated. To be approved, applicants need to satisfy various requirements, such as meeting income guidelines, living or working in Bartow County for at least one year, contributing at least 450 hours in their home's construction and being able to pay for their home.
Valued at about $110,000, the organization's homes are sold for about $75,000. House payments issued by Habitat range from $400 to $425 a month, which includes taxes and insurance.
"We're finding that more people have lost jobs and have gotten even more in debt and are not being able to make ends meet," Hooker said. "We have people that we've talked to that have lost their houses because of their jobs and because of their companies going out of business, and different things like that. It's just really hurt our economy.
"We think [providing Habitat homes is] really extremely important because we are able to actually do something great and [help people] prosper in Cartersville ... We're actually going to be putting six families into brand new homes over the next two years. So we're just excited about the fact of being able to do something positive for the community."
For more information about Habitat for Humanity or to volunteer for its upcoming build, contact Hooker at 770-382-6293 or visit www.bartowhabitat.org.