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Habitat launches 57th build in Albany neighborhood

Members of Flint River Habitat For Humanity, the Albany Chamber of Commerce and the receiving family cut the ribbon on a newly-finished home built by FRH. The group has broken ground on another home nearby.

Members of Flint River Habitat For Humanity, the Albany Chamber of Commerce and the receiving family cut the ribbon on a newly-finished home built by FRH. The group has broken ground on another home nearby.

ALBANY, Ga. -- Construction began Tuesday on Flint River Habitat for Humanity's 57th home in the Willow Oaks subdivision near the Albany airport.

It's a beautiful thing, says Caroline Pile, the business director for FRH, to see families put in the time and the sweat and effort and then take the keys to their new home.

"It's really all about empowerment," Pile says. "These families often come from just decrepit neighborhoods or lives or situations and are often looking for just a way out; a new start. And, through their work and our work, they get that opportunity."

Habitat officials are quick to point out that their organization isn't a giveaway program. They don't just hand over the keys to a sparkling new home to anyone off the street.

First there is a rigid and competitive application process, followed by a commitment by the would-be homeowners to put in between 200 and 500 hours building their home. Then the prospective homeowners must commit to paying the mortgage and escrow on the house.

The benefit is the zero-interest loan and the sense of pride and accomplishment that comes with building one's own home, Pile says.

And there is a benefit to the community as well.

Dougherty County owns the lots that FRH is building on, which means that when construction is done, the lots transfer from being owned by the people of Dougherty County to the homeowner. The county then can bill and collect property taxes on the parcels.

"It's really a win-win," Pile says. "The county gets property onto the tax rolls, a deserving family gets a good, quality home and slowly, the neighborhood is transformed."