Saturday, January 3, 2004

100th Habitat house built in 100 days for mom, kids

By Anna Michael
Enquirer contributor

[IMAGE] New homeowner Donna Mobley (center) with daughter Donnishea 14, (left); her fiance, Charles Williams; and her sons De-Marko, 11, and Leon, 16.
(Jeff Swinger photo)
Donna Mobley now has a place to call home.

The mother of three recently moved from her deteriorating, crime-plagued apartment building in Over-the-Rhine to a new home in Walnut Hills.

Thanks to Cincinnati Habitat for Humanity, the Shalom Project and Mobley, the house was purposely built in 100 days to signify it as the 100th home completed by the local Habitat.

"I always dreamed about having my own home," Mobley said. "With my income, I didn't know how I was going to have a home, but God always makes a way."

The experience working with Habitat has changed Mobley and her family, she said.

Her children each have their own rooms. Mobley had to buy an alarm clock because her neighborhood is so quiet.

"It is just great - it is just so peaceful," she said.

• Habitat for Humanity began in 1976 in Americus, Ga.

• There are 1,700 affiliates in the United States

• Habitat for Humanity is in 89 countries

• Houses take about six months to build

• 150 to 175 volunteers usually help with each house

• $25,000 to $27,000 is the average income of a family that buys the home

• There has never been a foreclosure in the Cincinnati Habitat

• Families do anything from office work to putting up dry wall to meet their "sweat equity" hours

Mobley met each of Habitat's requirements. She was living in substandard housing; she could afford the mortgage but was not eligible for conventional financing; and she was willing to work with Habitat and log 500 hours, said John Hoff, a spokesman for the nonprofit group.

After an interview, she was granted a house.

"I was happy about that," Mobley said. "I thought it was a great area for my family."

Cincinnati Habitat for Humanity was started in 1986.

"In a home with an affordable house payment, there is a chance of breaking the cycle of poverty," Hoff said.

Cincinnati Habitat receives about 400 applications each year, but most do not meet the requirements, said Helen Spieler, Cincinnati Habitat family services manager.

Since 2000, the average annual income of applicants has been $25,000 to $27,000. Most of the applicants work full time and must earn at least $1,400 a month.

"Most of our families are single-income families with children," Spieler said. "Our families are working, and it is just not reflective in their living arrangement."

Mobley works full time as a child care professional and supports her sons, Leon, 16, De-Marko, 11, and daughter Donnishea, 14. While her house was being built, Mobley spent every Saturday working alongside volunteers.

"I didn't know the first thing about building a home," she said. "Shalom and Habitat were great, and they all supported me."

The Shalom Coalition, which paid for Mobley's home, is made up of seven churches and two businesses. The group donated about 150 volunteers for the effort.

"The churches from year to year stay pretty consistent, but the corporations tend to change from year to year," Mary Schramm, spokeswoman for the Shalom Coalition said.

Habitat did the front-end work: buying the land, developing the plans, setting up utilities and getting the required permits. All work is donated, but the new homeowners must pay the cost of the materials, which is about $60,000.


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