Greenwood/Leflore Fuller Center for Housing is in the heart of the Mississippi Delta, an area of high unemployment with many families living well below the poverty level. Many live in substandard conditions, unable to secure better housing through conventional means. For these reasons, a group of concerned community leaders organized a Habitat for Humanity affiliate in 1985. Greenwood HFH became a Fuller Center covenant partner in 2008.
Since our founding, the Greenwood-Leflore Fuller Center for Housing (GLFCH) has built new homes, rehabilitated existing homes, provided rental housing, and provided education and employment opportunities to low-wealth residents of Leflore County. Our mission is to provide decent housing for God’s working poor who meet the required standards and are unable to acquire conventional loans for housing. We have completed construction of thirty-one new homes, selling each one to a low-income family at cost with a 0% interest mortgage. Our rehabilitation projects, titled Greater Blessing Box, have ranged in price from $350 to $5,000 and rely primarily on volunteer labor to complete livability improvements to homes of low-income families who own existing homes in need of repair.
New Home Program
To be considered for a new home through the Fuller Center, the applicant must complete the application and demonstrate that they are:
1. Low-income – The income of all home residents must be less than 80% of the Area Median Income defined by HUD for the most recent year of published data, and for the number of family members who will be permanent residents of the home. Though 80% is the maximum income level, the Fuller Center will prioritize any qualifying family with income less than 50% of HUD determined AMI.
2. Currently in substandard housing – A physically substandard home is a home that has structural damage or significant deterioration of the foundation, leaking and/or failing roof structure, dangerous and/or non-functioning systems (plumbing, electrical, HVAC), and/or cannot be sealed to prevent air leakage and pest entry from the outdoors. Alternatively, or in addition to physical deficiencies, substandard housing shall include a home in which more than two family members share a bedroom, or neglect and/or abuse by a landlord is documented.
3. Able to pay the down payment and mortgage – A foundational principle of the Fuller Center is that families can afford to pay for their new home or
repairs/rehabilitation. Analyzing a family’s ability to pay includes determining the family’s income and its obligations. Income can be defined broadly to include any legal source including welfare payments and SSI. (When including SSI payments to minor children care should be taken to plan for the time when those benefits cease). A calculation is then made of the funds available to the family after its monthly obligations are met to pay the mortgage.
The Application Committee works with applicant families to ensure that they are prepared for homeownership. In addition to credit checks and Verification of Income, a Committee member completes the Household Budget Worksheet with partner family members to determine the cost of housing (including estimated utilities and any applicable taxes and insurance) the household income can support. Though credit checks will be completed, the Fuller Center does not adhere to any specific credit score requirement.
4. Willing to partner: Applicants must be willing to participate in the construction of their own home as well as others. They must be communicative with the Application Committee, and show an effort to resolve credit issues and develop a sound financial plan.