A place to call home

Dominic and Amber Sartwell’s children have been counting down the days until they can move out of their three-bedroom apartment into their brand new Habitat for Humanity house.

“I like the yard,” said 15-year-old Amberlina.

Amber Sartwell said the three-bedroom house on Valley Street also is close to Amberlina’s school and has its own laundry area, something they haven’t had in the apartment. The three bedrooms are spacious, as are the two bathrooms. The apartment has only one bathroom, which can be a challenge in the mornings.

Though they are buying rather than renting, the mortgage will be about half the cost of the rent on their three-bedroom apartment, said Amber Sartwell.

“It’s a blessing,” said Dominic Sartwell.

The Sartwells applied for the Habitat for Humanity Program last December and were chosen for the house. The program ran credit and background checks on the Sartwells, and they had to meet income guidelines to qualify for the program.

The Sartwells and friends and neighbors have put hundreds of hours of work into the house, and its plumbing and electrical systems have all been inspected by experts and determined to be in good shape.

When the Habitat for Humanity program acquired the house, it was a vastly different property, said Roxy Volk, executive director of Habitat for Humanity. The house had been repossessed by a bank and was filled with trash, had mold and was covered in graffiti. Now it looks like a totally different property.

Volk said the program is now looking for another family for its next Habitat for Humanity house and will be accepting applications.

To qualify, a family must meet certain guidelines. Their present housing should be inadequate and they should be unable to obtain adequate housing through conventional means. The program will also consider the number of children in a family and their ages and gender compared with the number of bedrooms in the current house and the percentage of monthly income currently spent on housing. To qualify, their total annual gross income must not exceed 80 percent of the Ward County median income for a family of their size. For a household of one, the maximum income allowed is $37,250; for two people, $42,600; for three people, $47,900; for four people, $53,200; for five people, $57,500; for six people $61,750; for seven people, $66,000; and for eight people, $70,250.

Families must demonstrate the ability to pay the monthly mortgage payments. This payment includes mortgage principal, property taxes, homeowner’s insurance and a small home maintenance fund deposit.

When selected for the program, the family will become a “partner family” in the Habitat program and will be required to complete a volunteer work commitment with Habitat. This will include successfully completing several classes to prepare for home ownership. Partner families must complete a minimum of 250 volunteer hours per adult older than 18. Families can receive a percentage of hours by applying time put in on behalf by friends and relatives who join in the work.

Families will be responsible for maintenance and repairs on the house once they move in.

There is no interest on a Habitat for Humanity loan.

The Sartwells have also committed to volunteering to work a bit on the next Habitat for Humanity house in Minot.

More information about the program can be found at (www.minothabitat.org).