Building homes, communities and hope through affordable homeownership in the Charlotte Region.
The third time proved too much.
Twice before the apartment that Lapri Holmes shared with her teenage daughter had been vandalized, but now — after the third incident — Holmes had made up her mind: She would one day own her own home and provide a secure environment for her family.
Holmes had considered homeownership before, but it always seemed out of reach. No one in her immediate family owned a home. She also had been laid off at one point, and her credit was not the best, she recalls.
Holmes had heard about Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit organization involved in more than 70 countries that works with families, volunteers and others to provide safe, affordable homes. But Holmes also had heard what she later learned were misperceptions about the group; she thought she had to know someone in the Habitat organization to get assistance, or that she had to be part of a large family needing housing. She worried there would be a long wait list.
In 2019, Holmes attended an informational program sponsored by Habitat of Humanity for the Charlotte Region. She learned that if she participated in Money Matters, a financial literacy program designed to help area individuals and families improve their financial knowledge, that she would become eligible to apply to the Habitat homeownership program.
Holmes signed up. After much hard work and dedication, the mother and her now-15-year-old daughter, Baylie, are preparing to move into a new, two-story, three-bedroom home in west Charlotte. Holmes, 41, has learned new skills on topics relating to family finances and how to budget, home maintenance, and how to lower monthly power bills. She also has made new friends and plans to continue volunteering with Habitat to help others.
“Homeownership,” she said, “is something I’ve always wanted, but it just never lined up.”
She calls Habitat “an amazing program”: “It isn’t only about helping people get houses; they are educating you on homeownership. It’s a whole masterclass.”
Habitat for Humanity of the Charlotte Region was founded in 1983 by seven local churches and has served more than 3,500 families since then. Collectively, those homeowners have paid more than $20 million in property taxes. Habitat Charlotte Region leaders envision a world where everyone has a comfortable place to live, and they are passionate in their push to make housing universally available in the community.
Habitat Charlotte Region offers programs including a homeownership program, a Critical Home Repair program, and the Money Matters financial literacy program.
Holmes, who graduated from UNC Charlotte with a degree in software information systems, had lived in the same apartment complex for more than 20 years. She stopped feeling safe there as neighborhood vandals repeatedly threw bricks and rocks into her windows. One rock landed on her daughter’s pillow (her daughter was not in the room at the time).
During the height of the pandemic lockdown, when Holmes and her daughter shared a one-bedroom unit, space was precious — her daughter did remote schoolwork in the bedroom while Holmes worked remotely in the living room, processing health insurance claims as an accounts receivable representative for a healthcare company.
Holmes joined Habitat’s Money Matters program after learning that people who complete the program are eligible to apply to Habitat’s homeownership program. They also receive a stipend, which Holmes used to pay off debt. Since being accepted into the homeownership program in March 2020, Holmes has attended classes and volunteered, helping build houses for other program participants.
She said she learned about being a responsible homeowner and neighbor and started building an emergency fund. Family and friends became Habitat volunteers, too, helping on construction crews and volunteering at Habitat’s ReStore.
Habitat for Humanity of the Charlotte Region operates six ReStore locations, plus an online store. The stores accept donations and sell new and gently-used furniture, appliances, home décor, home improvement and building materials. Proceeds are used to build and repair homes.
With the help of friends and family, Holmes is working toward 300 hours of HIP Hours, and construction on her home is currently underway. She selected a lot at The Meadows at Plato Price, and construction kicked off in January of this year.. For her kitchen cabinets she chose a classic gray paint, and for her bedroom she chose dark gray carpet.
[Also read: Where the historic Plato Price School once stood, Habitat for Humanity will build 39 affordable homes]
She and Baylie are thrilled that they will soon no longer share a bathroom.
Similar to other Habitat homeowners, Holmes’ monthly mortgage payment will be capped at 30 percent of her income. She is now debt free and has significantly improved her credit score. She also plans to enroll her daughter in the Money Matters program, to help her build the financial literacy skills she’ll need later in life.
“You’ve got to put in the hours and be patient,” Holmes says. “These are things I did not have. In my community, they weren’t taught to us, unfortunately. Very few of my friends had their parents teach them about savings and budgeting. My daughter will be able to use these skills as she grows up.”
This fall, Habitat volunteers from around the world will come to Charlotte to build homes in the neighborhood where Holmes and her daughter will live. The international gathering — the 2023 Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project — will coincide with Habitat Charlotte Region’s 40th anniversary.
From Oct. 1-6, volunteers will build 20 new homes in The Meadows at Plato Price. Country music stars Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood will spend a week in Charlotte leading the effort.
[Also read: Habitat project gets big-name boost]
As part of its anniversary celebration, Habitat Charlotte Region is aiming to raise $40 million to help build and repair more affordable homes than ever.
Holmes says she plans to volunteer when the international gathering arrives in October; she wants to give back and help build homes for her future neighbors.
“My journey,” she said, “has been very rewarding.”