Bethel Village becomes a reality
Bethel Village, a housing subdivision being built by a local nonprofit, is becoming a reality.
A sign with Psalm 127:1 hangs prominently on a post as people enter Bethel Village on Jonathan Creek.
“Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain,” it reads.
“Community building community is our ongoing hope and prayer,” said Richard Bates, Bethel Village spokesperson.
Camp Bethel, Inc., a Haywood County foundation, purchased the 50-acre tract of land on Jonathan Creek back in July 2012, and since that time has been working on designing and building an affordable housing option for area residents.
Several families now call Bethel Village home and two additional houses have been completed and are slated to close in August.
“It’s very exciting to finally see kids and families living in community,” Bates said. “The people that God has brought to Bethel Village so far has been amazing.”
There are currently three additional homes under way in Bethel Village, two of which are smaller one-bedroom studio homes that are about 525-640 square feet. While they may be small, they are new, well built and will have central heating and air — something hard to come by with older homes in Haywood.
A disabled veteran is interested in one of the studio homes being built and a larger home is going to a single mother with with two children.
Since an article on Bethel Village was published in March, Bates said he has collected a list of 125 possible applicants for the homes.
"We also quickly learned that there is a great need among young couples, single moms, retired veterans and the elderly who are living on limited incomes and cannot afford a very big payment,” he said. “We are hoping to build a small, attractive, energy efficient product for such individuals, giving them the opportunity to experience pride of ownership in a well-located deed restricted community."
Any size home is available in Bethel Village, where the goal is to build homes that fit both the housing needs and pocketbook of the prospective resident. The great thing about the project is that the residents only pay what the cost is to build the home. Therefore, the more volunteer labor and donated materials they get, the less the home costs for the owner.
“A lot has happened in the past year as a result of the decision to move forward with this affordable housing initiative,” Bates said. “We have seen the good in so many people both in and out of Haywood County. Again, the people who have become, or are becoming residents of Bethel Village have exhibited such hearts to pay forward what they’ve been given in an opportunity to own a home.”
Volunteer groups from Long’s Chapel and The Vine have recently worked in Bethel Village, and last week a group from a Methodist church in Illinois volunteered their time to help build one of the studio homes. Haywood Community College is building another home from start to finish beginning with the fall term next month.
The construction has also provided jobs to individuals through an ongoing partnership with the Open Door Ministry on Frog Level. Workers are identified, screened, drug tested and placed into a 90-day goals based work program that has given a number of them the needed boost to move onto other jobs in the community.
The workers get to keep some of the money for transportation, room and board and food, but the majority of the money they earn goes directly toward paying off rent, debt, fines, child support and other expenses.
Bob Booker is one man from Open Door who has been helping with the project.
"I'm loving it," he said. "I've been building for 35 years but haven't had much work. Thank God for Richard giving us this work."
In addition, local tradesmen continue to donate materials and labor as they are able. Scott Jenkins of Scott’s Landscaping Services, George Blackburn of Smoky Mountain Homes, and Jeremy Moody of JA Moody Construction have all been instrumental in keeping the prices on these homes within the price range of people living in Haywood County.
“We are very grateful to all of the people who are making this project a reality,” Bates said. “Footers being dug for free, lumber being donated, plumber Dwight Smith donating some toilets and sinks, discount pricing on appliances by Haywood Appliances and HVAC by Mike Ledbetter…favorable response and support from the Town of Maggie Valley…it all adds up.”
For more information on volunteer opportunities or to see if you qualify for a home, call Bates at 564-1142.
“Be patient,” Bates urged. “We’ve had a tremendous number of calls and are getting back to everyone as quickly as possible.”