Clay County Habitat for Humanity is partnering with State Farm to give away free hurricane kits to those in need. Those unable to drive to the event are able to reserve a kit online.
The giveaway will be held Sunday, August 28 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., or until supplies run out at the Habitat for Humanity location at 1717 Blanding Blvd. in Middleburg. The kits will include a radio, batteries, flashlights and first aid kits.
For those unable to attend in person, you can register online at www.clayhabitat.com or call 904-282-7590 ext. 201 to reserve a kit.
Clay Habitat for Humanity is an equal housing opportunity nonprofit that works to eliminate substandard housing in Clay County. As an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, they work in partnership with local families and volunteers to build safe, decent, affordable homes for low-income individuals and families in need, their mission statement says.
Founded in 1977, the Clay Habitat for Humanity has built 179 homes in Clay County and served more than 750 individuals, Marketing and Development Director Beth Miller said.
“Habitat is not a giveaway program. We offer multiple financing options to ensure an affordable mortgage that is tailored to the individual economic status,” she said. “Monthly mortgage payments go into a revolving fund to build more homes in our community.”
In addition to financing options, future homeowners perform “sweat equity hours” to invest time in the construction of their home and become invested in the community, she said. In addition to the sweat equity hours, homeowners are required to take financial education and home maintenance courses.
“In these classes, they are taught their rights, the process of homebuying from application to closing, how to budget to avoid delinquency and prepare for unexpected situations,” she said. “This ensures proper understanding of their financial obligations and how to maintain good financial standing.”
Other required courses include home maintenance, safety and estate planning.
According to recent data, one out of six Florida households spends half or more of their income on housing. Additionally, in Clay County, to be able to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment while earning minimum wage, one would have to work 99 hours a week, Miller said.
Clay County Habitat homeowners have done well statistically, even despite the COVID-19 pandemic, she said. They launched the Mortage Assistance and Bill Relief Fund in response to the pandemic, which assisted individuals who were furloughed, lost their job, were sick and unable to work or quarantining due to exposure.
According to the Shimberg Center’s COVID-19 & Housing Resources, 21% of Clay County homeowners are experiencing a housing cost burden due to COVID-19. That is 56,875 households in the community.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Habitat for Humanity has dispersed more than $37,000 to Clay County households and continues to raise money and call awareness for assistance.
There are four criteria to qualify as a partner family in need of a Habitat for Humanity home.
- Need – Currently living in over-crowded, substandard or unaffordable housing.
- Ability to Pay – Earning an income of at least $2,255 month with decent or fixable credit
- Willingness to Partner – Willingness to volunteer a minimum of 300 – 500 hours on the construction of their own or other’s homes.
- Connection to the Community – Living or working in Clay County for a minimum of one year.
For those interested in learning more about the organization or wish to volunteer call 904-626-4823.