Habitat for Humanity volunteers are working on a new home in the Greer community for the Griffin family.Habitat for Humanity completes about 10-12 new homes a year with about five big projects in Greer this year.

Habitat for Humanity builds Greer home

By: 
Kaelyn Cashman

A Greer family could be in a new home by Christmas, thanks to volunteers from Habitat for Humanity.

Jasmine Griffin said her future Fairview Road home is something she has always wanted to provide for her two kids, Za’Qwan (7) and Za’Nyia (4).

“I am looking forward to giving my kids a house to call their home,” Griffin said, “It’s something I know I worked so hard to get for them.”

Griffin heard about Habitat for Humanity through a coworker.

“Habitat is one of the best organizations I have ever encountered,” Griffin said. “They not only help you with a major step in your life, but they genuinely care about you. And for that I am grateful.”

In order to qualify for a home, Griffin has gone to classes, worked at the build sites and more.

“Our families do so much work,” as most of them work a couple jobs along with caring for kids, said Karen Olson, Volunteer Coordinator. “They do tons of homeowner preparation classes,” such as budgeting and fire safety.

“We want to make sure they’re ready for that mortgage when it comes around,” Olson said.

AnnLee Giltner of Greer, one of at least 13 volunteers who worked on the Griffin’s house last Friday, has been volunteering for nearly a year now.

“I actually volunteered with a women’s build in 2017 and just kind of really liked it, enjoyed that we were doing something to help someone else,” Giltner said. “I’ve been doing that on my Fridays off ever since.”

“I’m anonymously helping somebody else be a homeowner and giving back in that way without them knowing who I am but also the camaraderie of being around all the regular volunteers that come out and selflessly do this. There’s several out here that have been doing this for like 20 years,” she said. “Meeting different people from the community, that just makes you feel good that our community is wonderful, and how we all come together and serve somebody that we don’t know.”

Wells Fargo is the main sponsor for the Griffin family’s home, which started being constructed on Aug. 9 with site work, grading, foundation work and more.

“After we are finished with volunteers, we have all the inspections,” Olson said.

From the day of the match to the day the family moves into the house is about six months, she said.

“Sometimes, it’s a month or two after we finish that they actually move in,” Olson said.

The process for a family to match with a new home begins with the Habitat for Humanity program, which checks income qualifications, previous housing and other verifications.

“One of the qualifications is to have a need for better housing,” Olson said.

Some qualifying factors include overcrowding, paying too much in rent for a place they have, or the landlord not keeping up the place well.

“We have volunteers that verify that,” Olson said. “That goes before our senior leadership team. They recommend for them to be part of the program or not.”

“After that, they work on their sweat equity hours,” she said. “Sometimes, they start working out here on houses.”

Other times, they begin taking classes or working on debt.

“Once they hit 75 sweat hours, they’re eligible to be matched,” Olson said. “Then, it depends on the timing.”

Some determining factors include the time of the year, the readiness of the program to start a new house, the sponsor group and the land availability.

“Once we have all those parts and pieces that match up just right, we can match a family and get started working on building that house,” Olson said.

Volunteers on a project can range from five to 20, depending on the tasks available with more volunteers during exterior work and less for interior work.

“Anybody is welcome to come volunteer,” Olson said. “We have an online registration system.”

“They can look and see what’s available online, or they can call me,” she said. Sometimes, “even if it’s not showing as available online, I can manage to get them in anyway.”

Olson has been doing this work for 10 years, so this build is standard, but each project is a home for a family.

“It’s a house for a family; that’s really special for them,” Olson said.

Habitat for Humanity houses are built to Energy Star standards, according to John Lattimore, Director of Project Management.

“It’s a little extra insulation,” Lattimore said. “The biggest thing for the earth craft Energy Star here is partly the closed crawl space. Traditional crawl spaces are vented; these are closed.”

One of the goals of the Energy Star standards is to control fresh air intake.

“This is one of the small pocket communities we do,” Lattimore said.

Habitat for Humanity puts one trailer in a location to build multiple houses when possible.

“We try to do at least a few houses together wherever we can,” Lattimore said. “Land is scarce for everybody.”

Habitat for Humanity completes about 10-12 new homes and another 25-30 rehabilitation projects per year with about five big projects in Greer this year.

“It’s relatively typical for us, single mom, two kids,” he said. “That’s a very typical family size. We build the three and four bedroom. On all of our projects, we have a significant amount of gift in kind. A lot of our products are gifted.”

“We’re one of the few earth craft builders here in town,” he said. “A lot of it has to do with air quality.”

One of Lattimore’s favorite jobs is roofing, and one of his favorite days is the landscaping day.

“I love the roofing,” Lattimore said. “My favorite day is the landscaping day. You actually get the plants in and some color on the ground.”

“It feels like a home instead of a construction site,” he said.

kaelyn@greercitizen.com | 877-2076

The Greer Citizen

317 Trade Street Greer, SC 29651

P.O. Box 70 Greer, SC 29652

Phone: 1-864-877-2076

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