By Wendy Burton
Phoenix Staff Writer
Tiara Winston of Muskogee purchased her Habitat for Humanity home in June and couldn’t be happier with her decision.
“It’s not hard at all, and yes, you should do it,” Winston said. “Even if you don’t know whether you qualify, you should apply. It’s a great starting point for your family that puts you in a position to grow and to save. It’s wonderful.”
Habitat for Humanity is holding one of its biannual meetings for potential homeowners from 5 to 7 p.m. Feb. 19. The meeting is a requirement for anyone who wants to apply to become a Habitat homeowner.
Those who are interested should pick up an application between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday through Friday at 2001 W. Okmulgee Ave., fill it out and bring it to the meeting.
Chair of the Board of Directors Tara Standridge said she encourages everyone who is interested to at least apply.
“We do check credit, but it’s not solely based on credit, because most of the people in our program may be coming from poverty,” Standridge said. “Part of the requirements for those who become qualified Habitat partner families is to take financial classes. We work with them on helping make their credit score better.”
Applicants must have lived in Muskogee for at least one year, and it is income-qualified. Homeowners have to help build their homes. They are required to put in 300 hours of sweat-equity.
The highest Habitat mortgage is $42,500. At a zero-interest rate mortgage, financed for 20 years, the average homeowner payment with insurance and escrow included is under $300 per month, Standridge said.
Families who live in substandard housing or overcrowded housing conditions are encouraged to apply. All houses are built in Muskogee.
For Winston, there’s no doubt she made the right choice.
“We moved to Muskogee to send my son to the Oklahoma School for the Blind,” Winston said. “God is good. God is very good.”
Winston said the 300 sweat-equity hours aren’t hard to do — she did most of her volunteer work helping build other peoples Habitat homes as she waited for hers to be ready to go.
“I laid carpet, painted, cleaned yards, whatever I could do to help,” she said. “It wasn’t hard at all.”
Winston said applicants must have a job or some way to pay a mortgage back — she works part-time and goes to college full-time. Winston will finish her bachelor’s degree in social work in December.
“They need you to be able to make your payments so they can build other homes,” she said.
Reach Wendy Burton at (918) 684-2926 or wburton
If you go
WHAT: Habitat for Humanity meeting.
WHEN: 5 to 7 p.m. Feb. 19.
WHERE: 2001 W. Okmulgee Ave.
ETC.: Pick up applications from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Habitat for Humanity office, 2001 W. Okmulgee Ave. or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Fill out the application and bring it to the Feb. 19 meeting to apply to become a Habitat homeowner.
INFORMATION: (918) 687-1470.