There were no hammer blows on a recent Friday morning in the duplex on South Court Street in Westminster — no cans of paint or spackle. The only labor involved moving around and placing furniture in a home, in a new beginning.
“I am a new Habitat for Humanity owner. This is my new home, absolutely beautiful,” said Natasha Elizabeth, to herself as much as anyone else. “It looks like a new house. It’s 100 times better than I ever imagined.”
That day in late October was the culmination of a process that began in August, when Elizabeth and volunteers from Habitat for Humanity of Carroll County began scraping adhesive from the floor and patching walls of a home that needed a little extra love and care, in the words of Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Bryan Lyburn.
“It’s an exciting day for our mission today as we welcome another family into a our larger habitat family,” he said. “They’ve worked over the past three months to rehabilitate the home here behind us today. She’s complete a home ownership education program and she’s earned a zero-percent interest mortgage, where she will live in this home for years to come, with her son.”
Habitat for Humanity homeowners qualify for no-cost mortgages by showing they are working and earning income that can cover an affordable mortgage, and by putting in the sweat equity of working with volunteers to rehabilitate the property, Lyburn said.
“We don’t want income to be a barrier to home ownership,” he said. “If a family is working and has the ability to pay a very low cost mortgage, we want to create opportunity for them.”
Elizabeth had put in the sweat, and on that Friday, as her 6-year-old son Gordon Braxton played with a balloon in the sun room, she enjoyed the return on her investment, smiling at the thought of him growing up there.
“When he saw his room — I painted it myself, that bright blue — he was so happy,” she said. “I can’t wait to make memories here and holidays.”
She won’t have far to go — Habitat’s next project will be her new neighbor.
“I’m excited to announce that the house next door on the other side was recently purchased by Habitat, and that will be our next project,” Lyburn said that day. “We look forward to continuing our investment in this community.”
Elizabeth and Braxton are already happy to be a part of that community. Just a few months ago, the two were staying on a friend’s enclosed porch. Now, the autumn sun warmed the porch of their own home.