Habitat for Humanity ReStore Moving to New Home
MICHELLE T. BERNARD
The Lincoln County Habitat for Humanity (LCHH) ReStore has outgrown its former space on East Sycamore Street in Lincolnton and is in the process of moving to the storefront formerly occupied by Big Lots on North Aspen Street.
“My goal was to get us a larger and more visible spot,” executive director Terry Laney said. “We looked at the old Harris Teeter and Staples store locations but the former Big Lots space was exactly what we needed. There was very little that we needed to do to get it upfitted.”
Another goal of LCHH is to make the shopping center on North Aspen Street more vibrant and to help fill the vacant space by the traffic that they’ll draw to the site, according to Laney.
“When we opened the Denver Restore, there was Harris Teeter on one end and the Rice Bowl on the other and after we moved in, everything else filled up and the parking lot is pretty full every day,” he said. “We expect the same thing to happen here. A Habitat ReStore is open to everyone, not just Habitat homeowners.”
The new location for the Habitat ReStore is much larger so there will be space for more inventory, according to Laney. The store at East Sycamore was approximately 6,600 square feet and the new space is approximately 25,000 square feet.
The LCHH has been helping people in the area since 1992. In 1998, a small ReStore was opened and it moved to the East Sycamore location in 2007. Habitat International, founded by Millard and Linda Fuller, has been in existence since 1976. Former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, become Habitat partners in 1984.
“Habitat was really put on the map when the Carters became involved,” Laney said. “There are now over 80 Habitat affiliates in North Carolina alone.”
According to Laney, the most important thing necessary to grow a Habitat affiliate is not money or volunteers but having families involved. There were no families involved in LCHH when he was hired.
“Habitat is about serving families and with no families in queue to build homes for, the volunteers involved in construction were not being kept busy and moved on,” he said. “We put together a homeowner selection committee and almost immediately we got two families involved and now we have eleven families in queue for a new home.”
Habitat builds homes for families in need of affordable housing who meet the criteria, which is the ability to pay a low-interest mortgage, volunteering in a ReStore and working on the homes of others as well as their own and they must be between 30-60 percent of the area median income.
The family’s credit doesn’t have to be perfect but they have to have all of their bad debt removed before Habitat will start their house, according to Laney. A committee votes on the family’s application and, if they are approved, they are in the program for 12 to 18 months. They have a certain number of hours of sweat equity to put in before their house is built, they have to attend classes on subjects like household finances and improving their credit, basic home improvement and parenting skills. The children get sweat equity hours for the grades they receive in school.
“We have found that their grades are impacted – they’ll come back in with higher grades than they received in the previous quarter or year,” Laney said. “The kids are excited because they are able to contribute to the building of their home. We get the whole family involved and engaged.”
It takes about four months and a lot of volunteers for a typical Habitat home to be built, according to Laney. The income from the ReStore helps LCHH to build homes, the rest of the money comes from donations and grants. The first Habitat home to be built in Lincoln County in four years is in the process of being built and will be finished shortly.
“We are trying to change people’s life here in the county and have a bigger impact on housing solutions,” Laney said.
LCHH is looking for volunteers to help move items from the old store to the new one and to work at the new store when it opens on Nov. 15.