By Nicole Macon
Volunteers from Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia and the Virginia Housing Development Authority began construction last week on a new home in Falls Church for a family of six.
Muhsin Khalil and Amani Salih were selected to receive a discounted mortgage for a three-bedroom house on the 2800 block of Douglass Avenue from about 100 families who attended a Habitat for Humanity orientation at the Second Baptist Church in Falls Church’s Tinner Hill neighborhood. Khalil and Salih immigrated to the United States from Sudan in 2002. Together they are raising four daughters under the age of 8 in Reston in a two-bedroom apartment which they rent for $1,700 a month.
Space at the Khalil and Salih family’s Reston apartment is so scarce that Khalil stores most of his clothing in his car, bringing only a few articles of clothing into the apartment, his wife Salih said. While the family lives on the ground floor, they are unable to store any items outside the apartment, Salih said.
Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia generally helps build multi-family homes, but when property became available in Tinner Hill, Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia Executive Director Jon Smoot saw it as an opportunity “too good to pass up” for the organization to place a needy family in a single-family home located in an established community.
The owners wanted affordable housing built on the abandoned site and offered a “deep discount” for Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia to demolish the old house and build a new one in its place, Smoot said.
About 12 contractors from the Virginia Housing and Development Authority lent their homebuilding expertise to lay the groundwork for the new home. An afternoon rain shower on Saturday didn’t prevent volunteers from insulating the foundation walls, preparing the crawl space, setting the first floor joists, and laying the subfloor and framing of the first floor.
Salih is glad for the opportunity that Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia is providing for her family to move in a safe area with more space.
“[It is] so exciting when you do something for your kids,” Salih said. “We are so happy.”
Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia selected the Khalil and Salih family based on their having an income level that is 35 to 50 percent of the area’s annual mean income and good credit, as well as on their status as first-time homebuyers. In order to receive a discounted mortgage from Habitat for Humanity, Khalil and Salih must volunteer between 300 to 500 hours to either building their new home or volunteering for the organization in other ways, such as building at another site or working at one of the organization’s ReStores that sells donated home improvement items. This “sweat equity,” from both the receiving family and volunteers, helps drive down the cost of Habitat for Humanity properties, Smoot said.
Smoot estimates that Khalil and Salih will be able to obtain a 30-year mortgage with no interest with monthly payments between $850 and $900 a month, for a total mortgage that could range from $306,000 to $324,000.
“Every donation counts towards knocking down the cost” of constructing the home, Smoot said.
In addition to labor, Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia received a $25,000 donation from VHDA. The organization was among six selected to receive funds from VHDA’s 21st annual Charity Golf Tournament, held this past May.
While the home’s completion date depends on volunteer labor, Smoot said that Khalil and Salih will be able to move into their new home by May 2014.
Construction on the home will take place most Wednesdays and Saturdays, with the next date set for this Saturday, Sept. 28. For information, visit habitatnova.org.
Correction: According to Edwin B. Henderson, II of the Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation, the location where this house was built is not in the Tinner Hill community. Read more here.