No longer does she endure high costs for living in “old, cold, drafty apartments with expensive utilities.” She and her daughter Ari, a rising 11th grader, moved into a new Suffolk home in December 2016. It was made possible by Habitat for Humanity South Hampton Roads and a grant from the Hampton Roads Community Foundation.
Kristy and Ari used to live in an apartment where rent cost $950 per month with utilities adding another $500 in expenses.
Kristy says she previously “always felt like I was living in someone else’s house. I couldn’t paint the walls the color I’d like or hang my own pictures. I have no one to answer to but me now that the home is mine!”
What a difference this move has made. Kristy’s monthly living expenses are now just $675 for the mortgage (including taxes and insurance) and $260 for utilities. Lower housing costs, coupled with energy efficiencies, are responsible for a $515 monthly savings.
Habitat for Humanity celebrates homeownership. Brad Kirkpatrick, executive director of the South Hampton Roads Habitat affiliate, tells Ari that “unlike paying rent, the monthly mortgage payment your mom makes goes directly toward building equity in the home. Home loans made through Habitat for Humanity are interest-free.” Volunteer labor further reduces the construction cost.
Habitat for Humanity homeowners like Kristy are among the group of volunteers helping build affordable homes for other people. Each homeowner donates 250 to 400 hours of “sweat equity.” This can take the form of helping to build houses or working in one of the two area Habitat for Humanity thrift stores.
Kristy has worked on the construction sites, but mainly processes donated goods and stocks the shelves in a Habitat ReStore shop.
Program participants learn do-it-yourself skills that help them lower repair costs. Kristy, who works as a Chick-fil-A manager, learned how to caulk windows and the importance of changing furnace air filters. She also can operate a table saw and nail gun.
Those skills are being put to use as Kristy joins other volunteers to build three new Suffolk Habitat homes adjacent to hers.
“Being a homeowner was a dream that I didn’t think would ever come true,” Kristy says. “The staff was always happy to help and calm my nerves during this transition.”
With a smile on her face, Ari has a simpler take about her new home: “It’s pretty cool.”