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Carpenter leads Habitat for Humanity KC forward

Posted: May 13, 2016 8:24 a.m.
Updated: May 13, 2016 1:00 a.m.
Tenell Felder/C-I

Laurey Carpenter

Habitat for Humanity of Kershaw County Executive Director Laurey Carpenter’s favorite word is “build,” which is appropriate considering her job and last name.   

“As an executive director of Habitat, I am responsible for overseeing the construction of homes,” Carpenter said. “Habitat for Humanity of Kershaw County is currently building two homes a year and is hoping to expand that to three or four.” 

Carpenter says she likes the word “build” because it represents progress.

“I love to build our community,” she said. 

Habitat for Humanity of Kershaw County provides housing for Kershaw County residents by building affordable homes for those who otherwise would not be able to own one. Volunteers -- and future residents -- donate time to help with construction of homes, which eliminates labor costs. 

Families are selected for homes based on need and are chosen through an application process. 

“They provide information on where they work, their income…. We look at needs as well. Are they currently in an overcrowded situation? Is the home they are in falling apart or not livable? Is the individual living with relatives?” Carpenter said.

She said the goal for families who participate in Habitat is to, ultimately, become homeowners. 

“What we try to do is provide equitable housing,” Carpenter said. “Our family members would never have the opportunity otherwise, so we are offering the opportunity to become a home owner.”

Homeowners are required to fulfill “sweat equity hours” through volunteering at the Habitat ReStore and assisting with the construction of their new home.

“We (also) provide a zero interest loan and divide it over 20 years. We do an escrow account like a true mortgage … families can own their home in 20 to 25 years. I’m happy to say there are eight homeowners in Kershaw County that own their home free and clear through our program,” Carpenter said.

She said she believes programs such as the ones offered through Habitat are needed to assist residents get back on their feet.

“Currently -- people are surprised to know this -- 14 percent of residents in Kershaw County live below the poverty level. My definition of poverty is someone who is living paycheck to paycheck, trying to get ahead but feel like they are always two steps behind,” she said.

In addition to the home building program, there are other projects with which Carpenter would like to see Habitat involved.

“We would also like to start a home repair program for low income home owners,” she said. “Currently, I see there’s a need for elderly or disabled homeowners. With fixed incomes, many can’t repair their homes. I’m hoping that in the calendar year beginning of 2017, we will have a program in place.”

Carpenter said she would also like to see Kershaw County become an All-American County.

“This is through the National Civic League,” she explained. “They pick 10 communities a year. My goal is to help build the community and to become an All-American County by 2018. You have to have three projects that are progressive that helps build your community and make it a place people want to live. Kershaw County is in my opinion one of the best places to live because you have citizens that come together … I get to witness that daily with this job.”

Carpenter said those interested in volunteering or donating to Habitat for Humanity of Kershaw County can call (803) 432-0951 or visit www.kershawhabitat.org for more information.

“The wonderful thing about our program is that everything is about paying it forward. So the mortgage payment our family members make, all of that goes into helping to build another home. We are building our community.”

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