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Positive Long-Term Impact of Homeownership


Davidson College Survey Reveals Benefits From Financial Stability to Better Health


CORNELIUS, NC—From Huntersville to Statesville, families who live in homes built by Our Towns Habitat for Humanity say they’re better off than before moving into their home, according to a recent study by Davidson College. The study shows the benefits of an affordable home go beyond shelter. Habitat Homes bring improvements in financial stability, employment, education and health.

The survey, conducted last spring, reached out to nearly 300 Habitat homeowners to see how their lives had changed as a result of living in a decent home with a mortgage they could afford.

According to the survey:

  • 80% believe they are in better financial shape with an affordable mortgage
    • 5% reported being able to meet expenses
    • 9% could meet expenses with a little left over while 31.6% live comfortably
  • 5% believe employment is more stable
  • 9% feel their children performed better in school
  • 8% believe they are in better health


“National studies have indicated a positive correlation between stable housing and financial security,” said Gayle Kaufman, PhD, Nancy and Erwin Maddrey Professor of Sociology at Davidson College, whose students designed and coordinated the study as part of her community-based learning course called Survey Research Methods (Soc 391). “The students set out to determine whether local homeowners experienced similar outcomes. The students’ results support the idea that Habitat for Humanity relieves financial burdens for most of their clients and improves overall financial stability.”

Based on 61 completed surveys, the response rate was 21%. Homeowners resided in Huntersville (1%), Cornelius (34 %), Davidson (11%), Mooresville (30%), Troutman (less than 1%) and Statesville (13%). Respondents had lived in their homes for 10.1 years, on average. The survey results were shared today with town managers and planning directors in Our Towns Habitat’s service area.

“Thanks to the generosity of volunteers and donors, Our Towns Habitat has been serving low-income, working families in this area for 31 years. We’ve seen the joy on homeowners’ faces as they unlock the door to their very own home for the first time,” said Chris Ahearn, Our Towns Habitat CEO. “As our teams raise the walls on the next new home, it’s gratifying to confirm what we’ve believed all along—that a safe, decent home with a mortgage people can afford is more than a roof over a family’s head—it’s the foundation for a sustainable future.”

Since its founding in 1989, Our Towns Habitat has constructed more than 350 homes across its operating area. This fiscal year, Our Towns Habitat plans to build nine new homes and complete 27 critical repairs to help low-income senior citizens and others preserve homes they own.

Thanks to Davidson College students who conducted the research: Daniel Bunson, Dusan Kovacevic, Isabella McElrath, Jessica Moo Young, and Margaret Reliford.


About Davidson College:

The Davidson College Center for Civic Engagement connects students, faculty and staff with opportunities to impact positive community driven change. On average, 25 community-based learning courses are offered each year providing students the opportunity to learn about social issues while building community capacity.

Davidson College is a premier liberal arts college for 1,920 students located 20 minutes north of Charlotte in Davidson, N.C. Since its establishment in 1837 by Presbyterians, the college has graduated 23 Rhodes Scholars and is consistently regarded as one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country. Through The Davidson Trust, the college became the first liberal arts institution in the nation to replace loans with grants in all financial aid packages, giving all students the opportunity to graduate debt-free. Davidson competes in NCAA athletics at the Division I level, and a longstanding Honor Code is central to student life at the college.


About Our Towns Habitat for Humanity

Founded in 1989, Our Towns Habitat for Humanity is a 501(c)(3) organization that brings people together to build homes, communities and hope in North Mecklenburg and Iredell Counties. Habitat homeowners build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage. In addition to new home construction, Our Towns Habitat performs critical home repair services to alleviate serious health, life and safety issues. Sales at the organization’s ReStores in Cornelius, Mooresville and Statesville help fund the mission, including nearly five houses last year. To learn more, visit You can also follow Our Towns Habitat on Facebook and Twitter.

Habitat home means safety, stability for Perryrease’s children

New homeowner Perryrease is now able to provide her children a safe, secure place to live, thanks to partnering with Our Towns Habitat for Humanity and the State Employees Credit Union (SECU).  SECU Foundation is investing up to $10 million to finance a Habitat home in each of North Carolina’s 100 counties through its Habitat Mountains to the Sea Challenge. SECU officials joined Our Towns Habitat volunteers and supporters today to celebrate with Perryrease, as she accepted the keys to her new home.

Perryrease, her daughter Makhia, 14, and son Michael, 13, had been living in a neighborhood where they didn’t feel safe. With sounds of late night arguments and sometimes even gunshots outside her door, Perryrease kept a close eye on her kids. It was a stressful environment.

The rent and shockingly-high power bills on Perryrease’s drafty mobile home were more than she can afford, which created more stress—especially when she couldn’t buy the things her children need.

“When parents are stressed out, it rolls over to the kids, whether we see it or not,” Perryrease said. “When they have a stable home, it makes a difference. They can relax and be comfortable. They can just go and sit out on the porch and not worry about somebody getting into an argument nearby.”

Perryrease knew she needed to give her kids a more stable home life, and that’s what motivated her to buy a home through Our Towns Habitat. When she was accepted into our homeownership program, it was her third time applying. Previously, her income working part-time was not enough to qualify.

But she knew the homeownership program was the path to a better future for her children, so she kept pushing, eventually getting full-time status at her job. “I didn’t quit, I didn’t stop, I didn’t give up,” Perryrease told us. “I kept going, I kept trying and I kept applying.”

Earning her 400 sweat equity hours as a working single mom was challenging, but Perryrease enjoyed meeting new people and learning new things. After working to help build homes for other Habitat partners, she would go home at the end of the day feeling tired but accomplished.

She is also proud of the example she set for her kids. While they weren’t quite old enough to volunteer on the build site, they helped her earn hours by maintaining good grades. She hopes they will remember the lesson of helping other people.

“Hopefully, they see what I did, and when they are older, they will want to volunteer and help someone else—not to get anything out of it, but just to help someone else,” Perryrease said.

Her hope for her children captures what Habitat is all about—bringing people together to help each other and show God’s love.

SECU is partnering with Habitat for Humanity affiliates across North Carolina

Our Towns Habitat at Work in Statesville and Iredell County

Family Services works in the Statesville Habitat office 2 days a week Tuesday 8:30-2:30 and Thursday 8:30-4:30. Since the end of November, we’ve met with over 160 families, processed 95 applications and made over 60 referrals to agencies such as I-Care, and USDA for repairs and other non-housing related needs.

During our first 90 days in Statesville we held an information session yielding more than 40 attendees and processed 45 new applications. There is a strong need for repairs in Statesville. We see about 6-10 families a week that are elderly, living in a home with critical repairs that they cannot afford to fix, and living on a fixed income.

Repairs range from broken septic systems, no working water, electrical issues, homes not handicap accessible, roof repairs, broken windows, water damage, and much more. Please help us to continue our work in Statesville.

The Statesville ReStore continues to grow and thrive with new merchandise, donations and shoppers to the store. Interested in volunteering at the Statesville ReStore? They are seeking volunteers during store hours, Tuesday – Saturday 9am-5pm. Contact Dawn Bumgarner, store manager at for more information. Read more about the store in the article published in the Statesville Record & Landmark.

Our Towns Habitat for Humanity Home Dedication

Please join us as we celebrate and present the keys to Andrew and Harriet Wall and their twin teenage daughters, Sharonda and Adaronda.

Andrew and Harriet Wall along with their twin daughters, Sharonda and Adarondo, would like to thank Habitat for Humanity for the chance to own their own home. “We enjoyed attending the educational classes and helping to build our Habitat home, along with helping others to build their new homes. We thank Our Towns Habitat, Grace Covenant Church and the Town of Cornelius for making our home possible.”

Andrew Wall and his family invested time and sweat to make their new home a reality for himself and his family . They attended 8 life skills classes on personal finances, budgeting, home maintenance, fire safety and more. Plus, they worked 400 hours of sweat equity building their home as well as other Habitat homes under construction. The Wall’s will assume a Habitat, no interest mortgage that they will be responsible for each month along with maintaining the home and meeting Habitat for Humanity standards for being a good citizen.

Our Towns Habitat + Habitat Charlotte

Growing strong together & creating a more powerful force for affordable housing.