ROSWELL, Ga. – It was a day of milestones Saturday, Feb. 9, for Habitat for Humanity – North Central Georgia. It christened its first home donated by Bank of America – one of 2,000 to come nationwide – and it helped put the sweat-equity homebuilding program over the 400 mark.
But all of that was nothing compared to the joy of the Boling family, Jonathan and Lynn and their two children Bailey and Logan. It was their home that Habitat officials, neighbors, city officials and volunteers came to celebrate.
Jonathan is a young, industrious family man who has been dealt a degenerative spinal disease that leaves him wheelchair-bound. In October of last year, he was living in his mother-in-law’s garage awaiting a Habitat home in his home Cherokee County.
“We had the property, we had – we thought – the proper zoning on a grandfathered three-quarter acre lot,” said North Central Habitat CEO Russell Hayes. “But it was up in Cherokee horse country, and the neighbors up there didn’t want a house that was going to spoil their view.”
So they got a lawyer to fight the building of the Habitat house.
Then in a moment of serendipity, Bank of America let Hayes know there was a house in Roswell, albeit in much need of repair, that was his for the asking.
He and his volunteers were determined to have Jonathan out of the garage and his family moved into their own home before Christmas, which fell on a Tuesday. They moved in the Friday before while the painters were still finishing up.
What was once a four-bedroom ranch is now a three-bedroom ranch with a full handicapped-accessible bathroom, shower and closet. It was a Christmas that even Scrooge would have to smile at.
For Hayes and his crew, this one was especially satisfying. Where the Boling family felt rejected by the people in Cherokee, here their neighbors welcomed them.
Lynn said they especially like “Miss Betty’s vegetable soup.”
Donald Carlton, BOA’s sales performance manager/Georgia, was on hand for the belated dedication, and said the house in this area should appraise for $125,000.
“This lot is huge. And Habitat has done a wonderful job with it,” Carlton said.
He explained that BOA’s donation of 2,000 homes nationwide is a bit of an eye-opener, but it is just the latest manifestation of a relationship with Habitat International that goes back 25 years and about $22 million – $3 million in 2012. BOA puts in the sweat equity as well, with bank employees contributing 30,000 volunteer hours rehabbing homes.
“We know that Habitat will take these homes and use them to not only help deserving families, but help stabilize neighborhoods as well,” Carlton said.
“The donation of these properties by Bank of America is a tremendous boost to our efforts to revitalize neighborhoods in North Fulton, Forsyth and Cherokee County,” said Hayes.
North Central Habitat has more reason to celebrate. Since its inception in 1995, 233 homes have been completed and over 850 family members have been served in North Fulton, Cherokee and Forsyth/Dawson counties.
And with the tithe homes – 10 percent of the mortgage income of the Habitat chapter goes to Habitat International’s worldwide program – it has financed construction of another 172 homes.
Today, the nonprofit, Christian housing ministry that builds simple, decent homes for purchase by low income families has an annual budget of $3.2 million.
Each family is required to attend educational classes and perform 300 sweat equity hours. Families buy their homes from Habitat, which provides them with a 25-year, no-interest loan.
“A lot of people are under the misapprehension that we give Habitat homes away. The reality is, the volunteers provide the labor usually, and the mortgages give us the funds to buy more properties. So every home makes more homes possible,” Hayes said.
For more information on Habitat for Humanity – North Central Georgia, please visit www.habitat-ncg.org.