Tuesday, February 03, 2015

TOP STORY >> Habitat for Humanity wall raising

Leader staff writer

Habitat for Humanity of Lonoke and Pulaski counties on Saturday raised the walls of its newest under-construction home at 400 W. Cherry St. in Cabot.

More than 100 volunteers came out to start building the three-bedroom, two-bath single-story house that should be completed by March.

Habitat for Humanity has partnered with Arkansas Federal Credit Union, Telcoe Federal Credit Union and an anonymous donor to pay for the project.

The future homebuyer is dental assistant Crystal Meeks, a single mother of three. She lives in a two-bedroom apartment with her daughter, Kaylee Vent, 14, and sons, Frank Vent, 12, and Adrian Vent, 11.

Meeks put herself through dental-assistant school at Eastern College of Health Vocations, graduating in 2006. Along with a full-time job, she works a second job at a convenience store on the weekends. The family had to move from a house into an apartment for nearly two years after a divorce.

Meeks will be able to purchase the $80,000 home with a no-interest 20- to 25- year loan from Habitat for Humanity. Her mortgage payments will be around $400 a month.

“I’m not homeless, and I am not needy. It is cost-efficient living. I still have to make house payments and insurance. It helps a single mother with one income supporting the household,” Meeks said.

She said her aunt told her about Habitat for Humanity, and she also heard about it on the radio. “It has been an awesome experience. I’m able to meet one of my goals in life. I always wanted a house. I hesitated to call,” Meeks said.

She was able to pick out the flooring and countertops for her new home. And her children will once again have a yard to run around in.

Meeks applied to the program at the end of May and found out she was accepted in July. Habitat for Humanity selects families based on income, credit score, need, which is based on their current living situation, and the willingness to be a partner.

Meeks has to put in 250 hours of “sweat” equity. She has been working on her house, other Habitat for Humanity projects and at the Habitat ReStore — outlet stores in Little Rock and North Little Rock that sell donated building supplies, working appliances, home furnishings and light fixtures. The money raised at ReStore goes toward future Habitat homes and revitalization projects.

The walls to Meeks’ house went up fast, as they were prefabricated at Habitat for Humanity’s warehouse in Little Rock. Habitat homes are built from designated floor plans.

According to volunteer coordinator Ginni Bracy, building crews will be working on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays to complete the house by March.

The property owner donated the land for Meeks’ home to Habitat for Humanity, which doesn’t buy land that costs more than $5,000. There had been a house on the property before, but it burned.

Meeks’ house is the fifth Habitat home built in Cabot. The Christian housing ministry has built or restored more than 150 homes for local families.

Bill Plunkett, chief executive officer of Pulaski County Habitat for Humanity, said, “We are looking to build more houses in the Cabot area.” He said the organization is interested in land near Meeks’ home, to build a Habitat neighborhood.

The organization marks its 25th anniversary this year.

For more information about Habitat for Humanity of Lonoke and Pulaski counties or to sign up to participate on a volunteer crew, visit www.habitatpulaski.org or call 501-376-4434.