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Habitat for Humanity and Wild Adventures team up for home build fundraiser

Habitat for Humanity and Wild Adventures are raising money to build more homes for low-income Valdostans.
Posted at 7:25 PM, May 16, 2024
  • Habitat for Humanity and Wild Adventures aim to raise $25K in ticket sales proceeds to help future home building projects.
  • Many Habitat recipients from the Jimmy Carter build in 2004 have paid off their mortgages.
  • Watch the video to hear from neighbors who have become new homeowners through Habitat.

BROADCAST TRANSCRIPT

Since 2019, Georgia renters have faced the 12th-highest increase in rent and mortgages in the nation.

A local group is looking to make that more affordable here.

"Now that my home is paid for, I still want to cry."

I'm Malia Thomas, your neighborhood reporter in Valdosta, and I'm speaking with neighbors about how they achieved homeownership... with a bit of sweat.

Stephanie Hutcherson has lived in her Habitat for Humanity Home since 2004... she was a part of Jimmy Carter's initiative to bring affordable homes to Valdosta.

"It's mine, I own it... scot free!"

Back then, Habitat recipients were put on a 20 year mortgage term with no interest payments; many neighbors like Stephanie who remained in their original homes have now paid them off.

"We had what I called "The First 28."

John Merriweather is also one of the original homeowner's from Habitat's Jimmy Carter build; he tells me he appreciates all affordable housing options in Valdosta, but Habitat gives the promise of having something to call your own.

"I was thankful to the Lord for how he bless. Giving us that opportunity because even in buying the home we were struggling, but at the time God still worked it out."

Habitat wants to continue their work to make lower-income Valdostans homeowners; they're teaming up with Wild Adventures, who will be giving half their ticket sales on May 17th to Habitat to go towards home builds.

Mike Bourgoin, executive director of Habitat, tells me that Habitat build the homes themselves and cost over $100K, so helping families is no easy feat.

"As I like to say, it's kind of an upside down pyramid scheme where instead of us getting all the money we're giving all the money away, so it's a constant struggle if you will to solicit funds for which we can build the homes."

Valdosta has invested millions in affordable housing projects like the Harvest Station apartments; Stephanie tells me she wishes Habitat could get that same type of funding.

"The money that I would have normally had to pay to own my own home for mortgage. I know I wouldn't be able to do it."

Habitat has a goal of $25K for their May 17th fundraiser. That marker will determine if they and Wild Adventures will have future events. In Valdosta, I'm Malia Thomas, reporting for ABC27.