As many of us in Madison County and surrounding areas know, for the most part, we live in an amazing community which has been blessed. As other metropolitan areas have struggled with the COVID pandemic, the greater Huntsville area continues to thrive as new businesses, jobs, and opportunities move into our area. With these new blessings, we are having to deal with challenges in our community, which already existed, but are now being exasperated. One of these is the shortage in housing and in particular, the critical shortage in affordable housing for low-income families in our growing community throughout Madison County.
In the 2019 American Community Survey conducted by the Census Bureau, the median rent was estimated to be $857 in our community. By January 2021, this number had increased by over 10% to $946, according to RentCafe. For a family to afford this rent without it being a cost burden, the family would need to earn $37,840 a year or $3,153/month. At full-time a single mother would have to make $18.19/hour. This can be very difficult for many low-income families, particularly our single-income households.
If a family is looking to escape the rental market into homeownership, they are going to struggle to find an affordable home even with the record low-interest rates. The median cost of a home on the market in February 2021 was $245,000, a 15.8% increase over the same time last year. As of March 9, of the 334 single-family homes, condos, and townhomes listed on Realtor.com for sale in Madison County, only 16 (less than 5%) are currently $150,000 or less. ValleyMLS has 774 single-family homes, condos, and townhomes listed in Madison County, but only 55 (7.1%) are $150,000. Many of these are being picked up by local and out-of-state investment companies who turn them into rental properties. According to one local realtor, some homes in this price range are not on the market for more than 24-48 hours with multiple offers. A 1,000 square foot home in a neighborhood Habitat use to build in twenty years ago, sold for $65,000 in 2018, very affordable for low-income families. Today it is on the market again for over $96,000. A daycare teacher making $13 per hour would not qualify for a mortgage to buy this home.
This week marks the unofficial anniversary of the COVID pandemic hitting our shores. This pandemic has brought many changes to our society and our way of life. Though COVID numbers have dropped in recent months, people are still impacted by the virus and the challenges it has caused. Many families have had to learn to adjust to this new world. Several Habitat kids have not returned to school due to health issues or their schools remain closed. They are having to do their classes online, and it is not uncommon for their parents who are working from home to be sitting across the dinner table. Even at Habitat, several of our staff work from home throughout the week. A safe and affordable home is even more important today, as we have learned to adjust to this new reality over the past year.
Habitat for Humanity provides a vital alternative to help these families find safe and affordable housing today and for years to come. Once built a qualified family in the Habitat program selects the home, which is sold to the family. They pay a 0% interest mortgage of $450-$500/month including homeowners’ insurance and property taxes. Habitat makes no profit off of the mortgage or the sale of the home. The mortgage is reinvested into our mission.
Today, the families we partner with and serve need your support! When you donate to Habitat we are able to leverage your donation with the new homeowner’s mortgage payments to build homes for years to come. You are not only partnering with one family to find safe and affordable housing, you and the family you helped, are partnering with dozens of future families in need.
Habitat for Humanity of Madison County is an ecumenical, grassroots Christian housing ministry that seeks to eliminate poverty housing in our community and make a decent shelter a matter of conscience and action. Since 1987, over 290 families in Madison County have been served through new construction, rehab, and home repairs.
For more information about Habitat for Humanity of Madison County, visit our website at www.habitatrivervalley.org. To make a donation, please visit our donation page at www.habitatrivervalley.org/donate or contact our office at (256) 533-2282.
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