What happens if a Habitat homeowner can't pay? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

What happens if a Habitat homeowner can't pay?

November 10, 2003

Albany-- Habitat for Humanity is known for placing people in homes, not kicking them out.

But the non-profit organization is still a mortgage company. They are certainly more forgiving on late house payments than your average bank. But, sometimes the charity has to foreclose.

It's taken 58 years for Nathaniel Lewis to own his own home, "I like the neighborhood." Lewis lives in Woodland Oaks, a Habitat for Humanity neighborhood in Albany. And one thing is for sure: this first time homeowner makes his mortgage payments on time, "I try not to let it never get behind because it's very important. When you buy a house you are not suppose to be behind on your house note."

Here at Woodland Oaks nearly ten percent of homeowners are delinquent on their house payments. Still an eviction is a rare occasion. Stacey Odom-Driggers, Executive Director of Flint River Habitat for Humanity says, "We are in foreclosure with a family."

In the Albany chapter's history, only two families have been evicted. Right now, the family in question is three years in arrears, "We try to figure out what the problem is. We offer alternative payments, if it's illness, lost their job, we can put arrears at the end of the mortgage, we really try very hard to do whatever is necessary to do whatever to make sure homeowner is in the home."

Sometimes, it doesn't work. But, there's always a family waiting for a home, and willing to try and make the payments, "Once we have possession of the house again we will go in clean it up rehab it do whatever is necessary to get it in good condition and yes the goal is to find another family and give them the opportunity to own it."

Like Nathaniel Lewis. Lewis says he would never be able to own a home if it weren't for the no-interest loans Habitat provides. And that's something he doesn't want to take for granted. The Habitat can foreclose on a partner if they are 90 days in arrears. But if the family is making good faith payments, they will work with them to keep them in the home.

Posted at 5:39 p.m. by melissa.kill@walb.com