RAEFORD, N.C. — Habitat for Humanity in Hoke County, one of the poorest counties in the state, is struggling to find families who fit the qualifications to move into newly built homes.
Habitat has already erected four homes in Hoke. Though several dozen people applied to live in the last home built, at least half did not meet the income requirements.
Officials plan to start work on a fifth home in March. It is the first time they have not had a family lined up to live in a house.
To qualify for a Habitat home, a family of two must earn between $28,000 and $30,000 annually. For a family of three, earnings must be between $31,000 and $33,000. A family of five would have to earn between $35,000 and $37,000.
Income requirements vary for different parts of the state and country, Habitat officials said.
"These people clearly demonstrate a need for having a house built for them,” Hoke County Habitat board member Daphne Graham-Dudley said. “They do not meet the income levels."
In addition to income requirements, Habitat considers the applicant’s current job history and how long they have lived in the area.
Habitat offers interest-free loans to the homeowners, who in turn make payments back to Habitat. The group relies on homeowners making payments so they can have funds to build other homes.
"Those people have to pay those loans back, because it won't work if they don't,” Hoke County Habitat President Bill Evans said.
Much of the materials for the homes are donated. Potential owners and volunteers build the house. Habitat homes cost about $40,000 to build and are often worth double that.
Habitat would like to build at least one house a year in Hoke County, but organizers said tough economic times have made it difficult.