HAMLET — The paint wasn’t quite dry Thursday during the dedication of Amber Baldwin’s new home through Habitat for Humanity of the N.C. Sandhills.
Family members and other Habitat recipients joined Baldwin and her teenage son, Demarion, for a special ceremony at the four-bedroom house on Raleigh Street.
“Today is like our housewarming dedication where we get to celebrate all of our families, all of the volunteer work and all of the sponsorship effort that went into making this house a home,” said Amie Fraley, executive director of the local Habitat group.
One of the main sponsors was First United Methodist Church of Rockingham.
“We have wonderful sponsors that share in our belief that everybody deserves a safe and affordable place to call home,” Fraley said.
Habitat homeowners don’t get their houses for free, but rather purchase them through a “guaranteed affordable mortgage.”
Baldwin began the process after finding out about it through a co-worker in 2018 was accepted in the program early the following year.
To qualify for the program, potential homeowners have to be between 30-60% of the county’s median income and a debt-to-income ratio lower than 43%, according to Fraley.
“Most of our homeowners might not be able to walk into a bank and secure a traditional mortgage … but we get to spend a year to two years getting to know them,” Fraley said. “By the end of that process, we feel pretty good about whether we can take a risk on somebody or not.”
They also have to take monthly classes to learn how to be a homeowner.
Baldwin said the classes were educational: “You learn a lot.”
As part of the program, Baldwin had to put in 300 hours of “sweat equity,” working on her own house and others.
“It was fun, I enjoyed it,” Baldwin said, adding that demolition was her favorite part.
Most of Habitat’s houses are 40% more efficient than new houses constructed by other builders, according to Farrah Pulliam, programs director and general contractor for Habitat.
In addition to building houses from the ground up, Habitat also recycles homes, Pulliam said.
Baldwin’s home is recycled, having been built for another family that outgrew it and sold it back to Habitat.
“We give it a facelift — new floors, new paint, new cabinetry, new fixtures — whatever it needs to be like new,” Pulliam said.
Sometimes, Pulliam added, it allows Habitat families to get homes sooner than with a traditional build.
Baldwin’s nextdoor neighbor, Beverly Downy, vouched for the affordability.
“I used to pay almost $700 a month living in the projects,” said Downy, who has lived in her Habitat home for 13 years as of June 14. “And what I pay here — half of that.”
Habitat has been building homes in the Sandhills for the past 34 years, according to Fraley.
On June 17, Habitat livestreamed dedications in three counties 10 minutes apart — one of them being a home on Westfield Drive in Rockingham. That home was for Aurilla Shaw, a single mother of three children.
Shaw was also present at Baldwin’s dedication.
“I love it, it’s beautiful,” Baldwin said of the recycled home. “I can’t wait to move into it.”
Baldwin is set to close on the home Friday and hopes to start moving in this weekend with her teenage son, Demarion.
To learn how to apply for a Habitat home or volunteer, visit sandhillshabitat.org.