Commissioners set to give permission today
The Hall County Board of Commissioners will meet today and give Habitat for Humanity permission to begin building two homes in the Copper Glen subdivision before the final plat is completed.
County officials said leaking water lines and erosion problems have delayed the final plat, but Habitat for Humanity is deserving of the benefit of the doubt given its history of good stewardship.
A certificate of occupancy will not be granted until the final plat has been submitted and approved. “It’s their risk, not ours,” Commissioner Scott Gibbs said.
For most, the road to Monday morning’s Habitat for Humanity groundbreaking was an ordinary drive to a rain-soaked and muddy street in South Hall County.
But for Patricia Turpin, getting to this point has taken years. Her journey, which began with a house fire eight years ago, has been filled with challenges.
“What a wonderful opportunity this is,” she said, wiping away tears as she spoke to the large crowd. “This is a new beginning.”
Turpin was among four homeowners who spoke at the Habitat for Humanity of Hall County ceremony kicking off construction of the county’s first Habitat subdivision — Copper Glen, a 21-home development off Baker Road near Ga. 60/Candler Road.
With tractors in place and the main street into the subdivision paved, construction is slated to begin soon on the homes, and homeowners were more than delighted.
“Being here right now seems so surreal,” said Jujuan Johnson, whose house is the first one slated for construction. “It’s just a confirmation to let me really know it’s going to take place.
“It has been truly a blessing. Without having gone through this process, (homeownership) would have never happened for me.”
Future neighbor Courtney Young also was thankful.
“Without Habitat, I don’t think I would be able to have my own home,” she said. “It (means) a lot of hard work and dedication. It’s just a community affair.”
The process often takes several years, from the stringent application at the outset to owners finally getting to turn the keys in the front door, officials said.
Applicants must meet income guidelines, but they also must show they can make mortgage payments. Plus, they must complete “sweat equity” hours, attending Habitat activities and financial and homeownership classes.
“A lot of people think we give away homes,” Habitat operations director Andi Harmon said. “We certainly don’t. It is hard work and you have to be dedicated personally and professionally to see it through.”
She added: “We work really hard to better families, to make sure we’re setting them up for success, so they can give back even years after they have closed on their home.”
For Turpin, Monday was an especially emotional time.
It brought back memories of the house fire, which displaced Turpin, her two children and her father.
Her 9-year-old daughter, Gracie, was severely burned in the fire, but the whole family has suffered trauma.
“It changed all of our lives,” Turpin. “It’s been a long, long road. I told Andi I could live in a ditch and be fine the rest of my life, but for these kids, they just really deserve a home.
“Without the Habitat program, there would be no way a bank would even touch us.”
She said her choking up as she spoke to the crowd was her realizing homeownership was near.
“Just to be able to look at my kids in their own home — it really does add a lot of pride to a child’s life,” Turpin said.
Caleb Last said he also is looking forward to when he can share a new roof and four walls — and yard — with his twin 3-year-old daughters, whom he brought to the ceremony.
“It’s going to be amazing to be able to raise my girls in a safe, healthy environment,” he said. “It’ll be a good thing.”