Nonprofit building affordable homes in HaywoodVolunteers needed to build community
Camp Bethel, Inc., a North Carolina non-profit centered in Haywood County, recently purchased a 50-acre tract on Jonathan Creek with the goal of providing new affordable housing for locals.
Two new homes are under construction at the moment and the plans is to initially build as many as 75 well-constructed, affordable homes for area individuals and families.
Richard Bates, a spokesperson for Bethel Village, is from Fort Lauderdale but has been a part-time resident of Haywood County for about 20 years. Being in the real estate business for quite some time, he said he saw the need and wanted to provide struggling families the opportunity to own their own home.
"We wanted to help locals have an option," he said. "Right now their only choice is a trailer or a 50-year-old house that needs updated plumbing and heating and air."
Homes in the initial phase of Bethel Village will all have underground utilities, central water and sewer, and beautiful views of Hemphill mountain. The nonprofit purchased the property from a developer who had the intentions of building luxury vacation homes.
Bates said the developer left behind three large log cabin homes that have been completed and are also for sale in the subdivision. Proceeds from the sale of those homes will be used to build additional houses under the new vision for the property.
“As many residents of Haywood know, two housing markets exist, in part, due to the part-time residents that spend mostly summers here. We are all aware of the limited options that exist for many hard working individuals in Haywood County," he said. "Rental costs are proportionately high in comparison to wage levels, and rental properties often present the tenants with high utility bills, especially in the winter months."
Bates wants to get the word out to the community that these homes will be available for qualified applicants through Camp Bethel's involvement with community resources, including donated materials and volunteer labor. The organization is working closely with Mountain Projects to get referrals.
With this mission in mind, the principals of Bethel Village are turning to the community for support with this project.
“We need volunteers to help us build this community. Individuals or groups, both skilled and unskilled, will be needed at different times,” said Bates.
A number of individuals and groups in the community have already volunteered their time and expertise at Bethel Village. The footers for the new homes and entry feature were constructed through the donated efforts of Scott Jenkins and Scott’s Landscape and Lawn Care.
George Blackburn of Smoky Mountain Log Homes has provided much of the technical knowledge and support on the new homes, as well as donating labor and equipment toward their construction, and Steve Hughes of S. Hughes Construction provided much of the expertise during the project’s startup.
Haywood Community College provided a crew that spent a couple of days working at Bethel Village, and discussions are under way with Tuscola and Pisgah to provide some workers in the spring as part of various class projects.
Several churches, including First Baptist of Maggie Valley, Morningstar UMC, and Long’s Chapel UMC, have also provided needed manpower and volunteer groups, and local Realtors including Emma Hughes from Prudential and Rob Roland from Keller Williams have lent time and expertise so far.
A partnership has also been formed with the Open Door and the cold night shelter whereby individuals are employed at Bethel Village under a 90 day “goals based” program. Several individuals have benefited from this opportunity already, while others are currently working on getting back on their feet.
“All donated time and materials are savings that will be passed directly to the prospective homeowner, placing these homes further into the reach of those who need them,” Bates said. “In addition, our goal is to make use of local labor and materials as much as possible.”
Bates said he has sent a letter to Maggie Valley Mayor Ron DeSimone for possible financial concessions on $225 per lot zoning letters, water and sewer tap fees. Although he said he hasn't received a response thus far, “we remain hopeful that town and county officials will also do what they can to partner with us in this project.”
Bethel Village is looking for churches, civic organizations, or any other groups and individuals to help as they can. This includes volunteer labor, donated materials, or even adopting a family or undertaking an entire home for an individual or family they might already be aware of.
“The motto, ‘Community Building Community’ will hopefully become the case as more people become aware of what we are doing,” Bates said. “We are confident that God will make this project whatever it is supposed to be and we will faithfully watch as He allows it to unfold over time.”
For information on volunteering, call Kalon Stiggins at 863-557-5167.
For information on living in Bethel Village, call Richard Bates at 828-564-1142.
Bethel Village Housing Qualification Guidelines:
Current or Anticipated Resident of North Carolina/Western North Carolina
Income or anticipated income derived from employment or anticipated employment in North Carolina/Western North Carolina (includes self-employment income and income from other sources, i.e. Social Security, disability, etc.)
Currently renting or anticipating renting in North Carolina/Western North Carolina.
Applicant must be able to apply for and qualify for outside financing/mortgage programs of their choice.
Applicant agrees to provide 200 volunteer hours (or equivalent) toward construction of purchased home or future Bethel Village home
Applicant agrees to participate in pre-homeownership course as offered and required
Applicant agrees to the placement of a $10,000 note and second mortgage secured by Bethel Village Home At Time Of Closing. Second mortgage will decrease by a pro rata amount annually and automatically terminate after five years.
*Household Income Guidelines
Applicant or household should make this amount or below:
1 Person: $35,435
2 Person: $40,470
3 Person: $45,505
4 Person: $50,540
5 Person: $54,625