December 2, 2010
A new low-income residence is under construction by Habitat for Humanity on Lafayette Avenue, between Bedford and Nostrand Avenues. Set to move in residents by March, the complex will offer eight spacious units, consisting of 2- and 3-bedroom apartments for families that qualify at reduced rates of roughly $150,000 to $180,000.
Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit, Christian organization that describes itself as “ecumenical,” meaning that they strive to foster cooperation among Christians. Aside from building affordable housing in the U.S., Habitat for Humanity sends staff and volunteers to construct homes in countries all around the world.
Generally, households who qualify for affordable units earn between 50 and 80 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI) and have a credit score around 650. In addition to these figures, Habitat staff carries out home visits, conducting surveys to evaluate need. Interested buyers receive courses on home owning and financial management, provided by the organization.
The Lafayette Avenue Building Supervisor, Orestes Jackson, works with three Americorps volunteers, who serve as staff on the project for ten months. Wednesday through Saturday, volunteers come to the Lafayette Avenue site from local universities, corporations, or faith-based groups to help out with gardening, insulation, dry-walling and other finishing touches.
Often, the corporate volunteers come from companies that donate to Habitat, such as CitiGroup. “A lot of the properties we work on, the city sells to us for a very low price,” said Jackson. “The city claims properties where people aren’t paying their taxes, then sells them, mostly to for-profit developers. But they set aside a few for organizations like us.”
The site on Lafayette is one of four Habitat for Humanity buildings in Bedford-Stuyvesant that offers affordable housing. One on Marcus Garvey Avenue opened about three years ago, and the other two, at 544 Lafayette Avenue, and on Hart Street, will open in early or mid 2011.
Along with Bedford-Stuyvesant, Habitat works on properties in Harlem, Jamaica (Queens), and the South Bronx. As of now, all of the units have been filled, but other projects around Brooklyn are in the works, said Jackson.
Buyers who are interested in purchasing property from Habitat can stop by one of the new buildings to pick up an application form, or call 1-800-422-4848, to find their Habitat for Humanity local affiliate.