JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Sabrina Carter and her 8-month-old son Frederick will soon move into their brand new, 3-bedroom, 1-bathroom house on Jackson's Dewitt Street. She'll finally be able to stop renting.
"I thought it would be better for me to spend (my money) on something in the future instead of letting it go month by month," she says.
Since 1987, the non-profit Habitat for Humanity of Metro Jackson has been building affordable houses with donated materials and volunteer labor. More than 450 families have been housed so far.
Average mortgages are roughly $350 per month. Carter's mortgage will be half of what she's been paying in rent.
"It's a zero interest mortgage with Habitat," says Cindy Griffin, Executive Director.
Most families can afford such an inexpensive mortgage. But every once in a while a family can't, or won't, provide what they've been asked to. The outcome is foreclosure.
The former owner of one of the three boarded-up Habitat houses on Manship Street actually deeded the house back to Habitat: an agreement to avoid foreclosure. At least one of the three vacant houses on Manship Street is a foreclosure. But Habitat foreclosures are rare.
"In the 23 years of building, our foreclosure rate due to default is less than 2%," Griffin says.
Habitat works with the family's budget to make the payments affordable. They also require home ownership training.
The houses are made of sustainable materials.
"A part of their house payment goes toward a maintenance escrow to go to major repairs, as the house ages. All of that has been taken into consideration," Griffin says.
And Habitat is the mortgage holder, so they require the houses to be maintained. "We do drive around. If we see a house looking ragged we set up an appointment to meet with that homeowner to see what's going on," she says. In the last five years, that's only been a necessity 3-4 times.
©2010 WLBT. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.