Stacy McCrary, a Navy veteran and mother of three, was given a set of pruning shears to trim the bushes of her new Habitat for Humanity home. McCrary is at the vanguard of a special focus on building homes for military veterans.
ALBANY, Ga. -- Stacy McCrary, a Navy veteran and mother of three, officially received her new home Tuesday during a ceremony on Sunny Lane.
McCrary is among the vanguard of a special focus toward building for military veterans, a direction recently taken by Habitat International and by Flint River Habitat for Humanity, the area affiliate.
In addition to a ribbon-cutting ceremony, Habitat sponsored a breakfast and a ray of remembrance honoring those who died in the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001. A call was also made for Southwest Georgia veterans to volunteer their services with Habitat.
Kitty Ashley, immediate vice president of Flint River Habitat, said that while non-military families have not been abandoned, the decision to focus more on veterans was made around February of 2011. The affiliate is now actively searching for qualified veterans.
“A problem we have is that most veterans make either too much or too little (money) to qualify,” Ashley said. “They’re not in the range. We found Stacy, though, and we’re trying to work on getting more applicants. We’re going to advertise the veteran’s builds to the American Legions and to the VFWs to let folks know we’re selecting veterans as well as families.”
Housing applicants, whether veteran or civilian, must meet specific income and credit guidelines, as well as other requirements to qualify for the favorable low-interest loans provided by Habitat. Those accepted must also contribute a minimum number of hours of “sweat equity” toward the completion of their own homes.
Specifically, Habitat is seeking veteran applications for a similar home two doors down on Sunny Lane, which is 90 percent complete, though it could go to a non-military applicant. Habitat also expects to build on the land between the two houses.
Ross Harrison, president of the Flint River affiliate, issued a call to veterans as part of his address to attendees.
“It’s not been easy to find (veterans). Supposedly there are 100,000 veterans between Valdosta and Ft. Benning, that makes up our area,” Harrison said. “We need to find them, and that’s not as easy as it seems. If you know a veteran who needs good affordable housing, you need to let us know.”
The 34-year-old McCrary said she closed on her new home last Thursday and moved in the following day. She had happened to hear about the home then in the process of being built from the pastor of her church.
“When I went in and was filling out the paperwork, I was told to say if I was a veteran because it was a special veteran build,” McCrary said. “It was almost like I was led to Habitat by a divine spirit. It’s just fallen into place. God is so awesome.”
Harrison said the two homes on Sunny Lane were made possible by a $100,000 Neighborhood Stabilization Program grant from the Department of Community and Economic Development and the city of Albany, which donated land for the build. In addition, numerous groups and individuals donated time or materials to construct the homes.