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Effingham Magazine

Habitat for Humanity: Home Ownership Changes Lives

Habitat for Humanity: Home Ownership Changes Lives

For Lauren Alvarado, homeownership has made a huge difference in her life. She is an audiology assistant at Savannah Speech and Hearing and a single mother to two sons. Partnering with Habitat for Humanity of Effingham County allowed her to realize her dream of buying a home.

As her sons grew up, she spent several years living in rental properties and had to move multiple times. Like many people in our community, she faced the challenge of finding a place to live that was affordable and safe.

“I always wanted a stable home environment for my children because it totally changes their path,” Lauren said.

Lauren was encouraged to apply for a Habitat home by her pastor. After submitting her application, collecting documents, meeting with the board and several months of waiting, she was accepted as the partner for Habitat for Humanity of Effingham County’s 18th home in 2016.

“I really never thought this was something that would happen,” Lauren said. “It’s been a huge blessing. It’s really changed everything.”

Once Lauren was accepted, she took the first steps toward building a home to call her own. From choosing a floor plan to selecting paint colors, she got to have a hand in the planning process before groundbreaking.

“For someone to say ‘Hey, you don’t have to pack up and move again,’ you can’t put a price on that,”  Lauren said. “It brings you a sense of relief and peace.”

It’s often said that a Habitat home is not a handout, it’s a hand up. Habitat homeowners have to meet a variety of requirements to be considered for a home. They must have been employed at the same place for at least a year, be able to make a 2 percent down payment and monthly mortgage payments, have a credit score of at least 640 and have less than $1000 in delinquent debt.

Homeowners also have to complete 250 hours of “sweat equity” volunteering on the build site or at the ReStore and complete homeownership education. 

“It was really cool to physically be a part of my home being built,” Lauren said.

The construction process of a Habitat home takes more time than most because it is built by community volunteers and contractors who donate their services.

“It’s an unbelievably humbling experience,” Lauren said. “There’s so many people that volunteer their time. These are people I’ve never met, but they’re willing to help build my home.”

In September 2017, Lauren and her sons moved into their new home. Nearly five years after moving in, Lauren still remembers the people she connected with during the construction of her home.

“You get more than just a home, you get a sense of community…you become part of a family.”

The Habitat family will grow again this year as Habitat for Humanity of Effingham County begins construction on its 23rd home. Volunteer opportunities at the build site will begin this fall. If you would like to be a part of the building process, visit to sign up.

Support Habitat Through the ReStore

You can also support the Habitat for Humanity family by shopping for gently used furniture, appliances and household items or surplus construction materials at the ReStore.

Stop by the ReStore on August 20 from 9am-5pm for Customer Appreciation Day, where they will thank their customers for their support over the years. There will be a cookout, coffee and chances to win raffle prizes donated by community partners.