Refugee family receives new Habitat for Humanity Home - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Refugee family receives new Habitat for Humanity Home

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

This new home is a long road from where Om Ghapa and his family were living in just three years ago.

And it's not just the distance.

"In my perspective it was hell compared to America," says Om.

He and his family emigrated from a Nepalese refugee camp.

"I was born there. We didn't have our own house since like 18 years."

Hopefully the journey to the United States just got a little easier with building of their new home from Habitat for Humanity

"Our homeowners who qualify for a habitat house get a zero interest mortgage," says Phil Prince Habit for Humanity in Charlotte.

"They wind up paying less for their monthly mortgage payment than they were paying for rent in their apartment."

But closing on a home can be an elusive American dream for many.

The city of Charlotte estimates that about 25 thousand people are still living in substandard or cost burdened housing.

"Meaning they're paying more than a third of their take home pay for housing," adds Prince.

Those with a job aren't sure that's an investment they can afford to make.

Harold Rice Junior is the chief program officer at Community Link he says people "don't have the confidence in their job in a sense to say I can maintain this dwelling for 30 years."

Community Link provides housing assistance to low income families in Charlotte.

Rice says many families who do have the means to afford housing, often struggle to hang on to it.

"It's all that comes with it," said Rice. 

"Understanding that you have to pay when the heating system goes out that's your responsibility, the plumbing that's your responsibility."

Hoping to make a difference, Habitat and Community Link provide a number of home ownership classes.

"These are hard working families," says Prince. 

"It's a great thing to be able to provide them a break.

And the homes don't come easy.  The new homeowners help build their own homes.

"It's what we call sweat equity and for a new habitat homeowner they put in 300 hours in sweat equity before they can close on the house," says Prince.

The Ghapa family also made a small down payment and will make monthly mortgage payments.

"My whole family is excited because it's our own house," says Om. 

"It's really cool to have our own house."

And what was given to them was worth their trip.

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