In the end, one more family in Rappahannock will have a place to call home.
The Fauquier Habitat for Humanity organization has been fundraising since January to fund and build that home for a yet-to-be-chosen family in Rappahannock County. Community members from around the area have funded about 50 percent of Habitat’s goal; once it’s fully funded, the build will begin.
“Habitat’s main goal is to address the issue of poverty,” said Rebecca Frye, resource development manager for Fauquier Habitat for Humanity.
Rappahannock County’s poverty level is, at 9.3 percent according to the USDA’s Economic Research Service, lower than Virginia’s 11.8 percent average. But the cost of living in Rappahannock is also about 143 percent of the U.S. average, according to Sperling’s Best Places website, which compares the cost of living in cities, states and other areas around the U.S.
This will be the first house the organization has done in Rappahannock in 20 years, but Frye said Habitat and a growing crew of volunteers and donors are excited to continue building houses in the county. Frye added that land cost is a challenge when building here.
“The price of land in this area is exorbitant,” Frye said, pointing to Rappahannock’s minimum of 25 acres land needed to build a new house in the county.
Wells Fargo donated land in the Huntly area and a family donated two additional pieces of land to make a safe driveway to the home (which is being built on a 2.5-acre lot that was grandfathered when the acreage requirement changed in 1986), Frye said. The land donated accounted for $19,000 of the $149,771 she said is needed to fully fund the project.
The relationship between Habitat and the family that will live on those plots of land doesn’t end when the keys are handed over.
“There’s a lot that goes into partnering with them so that they can succeed as a homeowner,” Frye said.
Once a family is selected, they have to agree to perform 400 hours of “sweat equity,” Frye added. That equity comes in helping to build his or her own house, another family’s house or volunteering in Habitat for Humanity’s used home goods shop in Warrenton, ReStore. To even qualify for the house, she said, the family has to perform 50 hours.
To apply for Habitat’s Homeownership Program, which helps identify families that will succeed in the program, visit fauquierhabitat.org or call 540-341-4952.
According to the fauquierhabitat.org site, a family of four must have a minimum annual income of $24,250 and a maximum income of $50,625 to qualify. Other qualifications can be found on the site.
Once the home in completed, the family will purchase the home while Habitat for Humanity holds the mortgage at a zero percent interest rate.
“It’s the generosity of the community that helps us get this done,” Frye said.
So far, $72,753 has been donated by multiple organizations in Rappahannock to fund the home. Habitat for Humanity needs about $77,018 more in donations in order to start building, Frye said.
Raising that money, Frye said, involves a lot of asking. Calling potential donors and holding organizational meetings are some of the outreach methods Habitat for Humanity uses.
One of the donors, Cheri Woodard of Sperryville’s Cheri Woodard Realty, decided to donate after hearing a success story from the last Rappahannock homeowner at a Habitat for Humanity organizational meeting. Her donation was part of a $11,375 gift from a few groups around the county that went toward the cost of a construction manager.
“I thought it was good to try and support it,” Woodard said. “They talked about trying to do this one house and it had been so long since they had been in Rappahannock.”
Another donation came from St. Peter Catholic Church, Washington, for $2,800.
“It’s wonderful for the new homeowners and it’s wonderful for the community to foster that kind of initiative,” said Father Tuck Grinnell, pastor of the church.
Grinnell added that Habitat for Humanity’s mission is important because it helps people who would otherwise not be able to be homeowners to step into that role.
“St. Peter is happy to be part of, along with other community members of churches, facilitating that,” Tuck said. “Giving people a leg up to find their home.”