Charlotte Ellis gave a tour of her new home. Even without furniture or decor quite yet, it already has personal touches, like shelves at a height Ellis can easily reach.The newly-built four-bedroom home was constructed specifically for Ellis and her three children that live with her.
After putting in hundreds of hours of what’s called “sweat equity,” Ellis is now a homeowner through Lubbock Habitat for Humanity. Her home is in the Talkington addition of the Parkway-Cherry Point neighborhood.
“It’s like something that someone can’t take away from you,” Ellis said. “It’s yours. You helped build it.”
The single mother worked multiple jobs and crazy hours to make this happen for her family. This is the first time she said her kids will have their own bedrooms. Ellis said she’s excited to finally give them that.
“Now they can just have one place for themselves,” the mother said, her pride visible through her smile.
Habitat for Humanity calls it a hand up, not a handout. Aspiring homeowners have to put in the work and meet certain criteria to get the keys to a front door.
Christy Reeves, the executive director of Lubbock Habitat for Humanity, said the organization looks for people in need of help. She said most people are living in substandard conditions when they enter the housing program.
“And they're actually paying quite a bit of money to live there,” Reeves said. “They would pay far less, usually, to live in one of our affordable homes and build equity.”
Not all, but Reeves said many people working toward homeownership in the subdivision Habitat for Humanity is currently building already live in East Lubbock — and they want to stay there. She said people just want the living conditions they deserve.
According to Plan Lubbock 2040, housing east of Interstate-27 is some of the lowest-valued in the city. The houses are older. But many area residents can’t afford too many home repairs or improvements - about a quarter live below the poverty line.
The comprehensive plan calls for redevelopment and new housing in East Lubbock that is affordable for people who already live in those neighborhoods. U.S. Census data shows the median household income in the area is around $47,000 a year.
Still, there are concerns in the community that new residential development could outprice and displace longtime residents. District Two City Council Representative Shelia Patterson Harris said she worries about development happening too quickly.
“It has the potential to create situations where people won't be able to afford to live in the homes that they have,” Patterson Harris said. “I think change is good, but I think change has to happen over time and let things adjust and find their way so that no one finds themselves out of a home or a business.”
Slow change — like Habitat for Humanity is trying to make. The organization can only build so many houses a year, dependent on volunteers and funding. But Reeves said the group is committed to working with the community to make a difference in East Lubbock.
Through the new One Lubbock coalition, Reeves said they hope to address needs beyond housing by building a community center and possibly other amenities in the Talkington neighborhood.
Habitat for Humanity Board Member and One Lubbock Leader Leon Williams said economic development needs to happen next in the area. There’s a common phrase in development — retail follows rooftops.
A new season of Texas Tech Public Media’s multimedia series “Beyond The Report” looks at how Plan Lubbock 2040 could affect neighborhoods that feel forgotten. For more, visit beyondthereportlbk.com.
Have a news tip? Email Sarah Self-Walbrick at email@example.com. Follow her reporting on Twitter @SarahFromTTUPM.
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