Overcoming Barriers: Habitat DeKalb’s Fight for Affordable Housing

Sharon Steele, the Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity DeKalb, brings decades of experience in building, financing, designing, and repairing homes to her role. Her passion is fueled by the joy she sees in the faces of new homeowners. However, her mission is met with numerous obstacles that make building affordable starter homes in DeKalb a daunting task.

Habitat DeKalb serves families often left out by the traditional housing market, particularly single-parent families with children. Despite offering financial assistance and zero percent mortgages, rising construction costs have dramatically increased home prices from $178,000 in 2021 to over $323,000 in 2023. This surge necessitates more subsidies and limits the number of families Habitat can help.

Jean and her two daughters, along with April’s multigenerational household, are among the few who have found stable, affordable housing through Habitat. Yet, many more wait in line, hindered by strict zoning laws requiring homes to be at least 2,000 square feet, while Habitat homes are typically under 1,500 square feet. These regulations, coupled with lengthy planning and permitting processes, mean it can take up to two years to complete a single home.

Despite these challenges, Habitat DeKalb is working to streamline these processes with the county’s help. However, more support is needed. Key changes such as reducing minimum building sizes, streamlining bureaucratic processes, and investing in infrastructure could pave the way for more affordable homes.

DeKalb’s residents deserve the stability and security of homeownership. It’s time for a change. To delve deeper into the barriers and the potential solutions for affordable housing in DeKalb, read the full article here.