Tammy Duncan lives in Cascade in a single-wide trailer with her two daughters where repairs are one step forward, three steps back.
"I just got a lot of work that needs to be done to it, like the floors and stuff like that. My windows are messed up. I have some mold issues. Like, every time I try to fix something, there are 20 other things that need to be fixed," Duncan said.
This isn't unusual for Pittsylvania residents facing financial issues, explained Kim Baldridge, the executive director for Danville Pittsylvania County Habitat for Humanity.
"Most of these families spend over 30% of their income on housing and utilities. So that's nothing left for, you know, quality food or going to the doctor and taking care of their health," Baldridge said.
Duncan couldn't keep up with the repairs and build savings simultaneously, so she applied to Habitat for Humanity in Danville after speaking with a friend and began the application process.
"They contacted me on April the 20th to let me know that I was one of the families chosen to be in the Habitat community that they're getting ready to build … I felt like I had won the lottery. It was very, very, very, very exciting. I felt very good, and I thanked God above," Duncan said.
Duncan and her family will be joining three other families on land that was donated by St. Luke's United Methodist Church. Habitat Village North will be on Seminole Drive in Danville. Currently, it is woodland, rocks and concrete, but Baldridge and her team at Habitat can already see the difference it will make.
Four lots have already begun to be built. Habitat hired local contractors and built a foundation. They used Joey Alderson Construction and Brookman Masonry to build the foundation and the foundation walls.
"We did hire out, we do a contract out a lot of times for our footing and foundation work because sometimes volunteers, you know, might not want to do that and notthat many people want to lay block," Baldridge said.
This is only the beginning.
"Once we get down into phase two, we have to build the road off of Springfield, so that it'll be another 23 homes there," Baldridge said.
Families and individuals in need of decent, affordable housing apply for homeownership with their local Habitat for Humanity, according to its website.
Currently, each local Habitat family selection committee selects homeowners based on the applicant's level of need, the willingness to partner with Habitat and ability to repay a mortgage through an affordable payment plan.
"We have an area median income of like $37,000. Not a lot of people, you know, make that. So with these families that we serve, Habitat for Humanity families, we don't give these homes away. They have to meet qualifications. They have to have the ability to pay a 30-year mortgage, but it's zero interest, which is what makes it affordable for them," Baldridge said.
As part of their willingness to partner, Habitat's homebuyers invest hundreds of hours of their labor, called “sweat equity,” working alongside volunteers and other Habitat homeowners. Each homeowner will help build the houses they will live in and assist neighbors in creating their own homes.
"I've got to do some volunteer work to help; I've got to take some finance and budgeting classes. I try to help; I am ready to volunteer and get our houses built for other families because this is going to be our little community in which we're all going to live," Duncan said.
The houses being built are known as “shotgun houses.” They will accommodate each of the homeowners' needs and necessities. For example, one resident is on oxygen 24/7 and will need special arrangements to for the equipment; another resident who is wheelchair-bound needs a fully handicap-accessible home. Able-bodied residents like Duncan will need bedroom space for their families.
"What we do is we build these houses by the families' need," Baldridge said.
The budgets for each house range from $115,000 to $125,000, and funding came by anonymous donors, The West Piedmont Planning District Commission, St. Luke’s The Community Foundation of the Dan River Region, Delorean Power and the PRA Group for the first four houses.
"So when you think of a house, it's just not a foundation, you know, it's just not the house, the structure. You're helping that family those necessities that all of us need. So that's what the mission is: building homes and communities and hope," said Baldridge.
The plan is to have four houses built by June 2023 before starting on the rest of the neighborhood. Duncan is already planning how she wants her home decorated..
"In my bathroom, I want to do it like in sunflowers wallpaper, something bright. And I just want to make sure that I have plenty of pictures of my family to be able to hang on the wall," Duncan said. "I'm just so excited about being able to live in a nice community. Hopefully, the kids will be able to make new friends and be able to bring their friends around and not be embarrassed about their living situation."