Raleigh, N.C. — Dewana Stanley and her husband never imagined they could find an affordable house in a nice neighborhood suited for their family of seven.
"We needed to find something that was the right price for us that didn't put us into foreclosure in the future or anything like that," Stanley said. "So, that was important for us."
Thanks to Builders of Hope, a Raleigh nonprofit agency that restores old homes and sells them to working families at affordable prices, the Stanleys' dream came true.
The couple was able to buy a house big enough for them and their five children in the Barrington Village neighborhood near downtown Raleigh. They have been there since August.
"We love it. That's all I can say," Stanley said. "I mean, the stability, the room that we have is phenomenal, and the investment that we have for our children's future is exceptionally special to us."
Developer Nancy Murray founded Builders of Hope three years ago as a way to make a difference in people's lives.
The organization moves houses slated for demolition, renovates them and resells them for $89,000 to $200,000 to working families earning below the median income who are not eligible for programs serving lower-income families.
So far, it has 24 homes in Barrington Village neighborhood, four in Durham and several other projects under way in a new downtown Raleigh development called State Street Village.
The group also has plans within the next year to expand to other parts of the Triangle, including Chapel Hill, Fuquay-Varina and Garner.
To qualify, a single applicant has to have an income below $47,000; a married couple has to have a combined income below $60,000. Applicants are responsible for getting their financing, but because the home costs are lower, loans are easier to come by.
"I think that people look at buying a home as achieving the American dream, and when you believe the dream is so distant that you'll never achieve it, I think it is disconcerting," said Mary-Ann Baldwin, director of development for Builders of Hope.
"This is one way that people who are working-class people can get into a home, and it's, I think, a dream come true for them," she added.
Builders of Hope's philosophy is to create a neighborhood in a city, where residents can have easier access to city services, bus lines and be closer to their jobs.
That's important to Josh and Grace Thompson, of Fuquay-Varina.
After looking for more than two years for an affordable home in Raleigh, the couple reserved a house in State Street Village.
"Definitely, finding a clean, safe house is hard to come by in the city in a middle-class price range, so that was definitely frustrating," said Josh Thompson.
His commute to work will now be four minutes.
Baldwin, who is also a Raleigh City Council member, said Builders of Hope is also focused on the environment. By salvaging houses, she said, the organization has saved 2 million pounds of debris from local landfills.
State Street is also going to be a so-called green community. For example, all homes in the development will use efficient heating and cooling systems, which will keep energy bills under $35 a month.