Habitat Brings Another “Dream Come True” to Bailey Springs
On Thursday, Our Towns Habitat for Humanity turned over the keys to a new house in Bailey Springs to a family that had traveled a long way to earn it.
Since Our Towns Habitat was founded here 30 years ago, the organization has helped more than 350 individuals and families become homeowners, and completed more than 200 critical repair projects to help elderly or disabled homeowners stay in their homes.
It’s not a giveaway organization. Habitat’s partner families must invest 400 sweat-equity hours, including financial education classes, volunteer hours in the ReStore, or work on the construction site to earn their home. In exchange, Habitat guarantees families a new home at a mortgage rate they can afford.
The dedication on Thursday represented a unique partnership between Habitat, the Town of Davidson and Jim Burbank, a local builder committed to affordable housing. The town donated the land, confirming its commitment to support neighborhoods that workforce employees can afford. While most Habitat homes are built largely by volunteers, this latest Habitat home was built by JCB Urban’s team. It was the last of five houses on the street that Habitat families can now call home.
The latest Habitat family, Chang Li, his spouse Lahpai, and their two sons Zaw Bring and Zaw Hkyn Latt were refugees from Myanmar, a country that’s been in crisis for decades. Facing turmoil in their homeland, they eventually packed up their few things and moved halfway around the world. Through hard work and resilience, they were able to settle in Jacksonville, Fla., and found employment at the Fresh Market there. Then the grocery transferred the couple to the Fresh Market here in Cornelius, where they serve customers as sushi specialists, among other duties.
Though they found safety and security in this area, Chang Li and Lahpai struggled to find an apartment with affordable rent. Then a friend told them about Our Towns Habitat for Humanity, and they applied. They didn’t qualify at first, but worked with a Habitat staffer and were able to improve their financial skills and resolve their credit issues to meet Habitat guidelines.
All that led up to last Thursday, when a group of town officials, Habitat supporters and friends from the South Asian community gathered to welcome the family into their new home. In addition to employment and a roof over their heads, their home in Bailey Springs is close enough for the boys to walk to Bailey Middle and Hough High, relieving some of the stress Chang Li and Lahpai felt in chauffeuring them back and forth to school every day.
As Lahpai cut the ribbon and opened the front door, she was also opening a life they’ve been dreaming to enjoy for so long over so many, many miles.
Bill Giduz was the son who followed his father’s footsteps into journalism. He has been involved his entire life with news and photography in schools he attended and jobs he’s held. He believes now that he’s got a few good years left to devote to The News of Davidson.