Central Oklahoma Habitat for Humanity will be in the thick of rebuilding again.
Immediate support for tornado victims is great and necessary, but it will take long-term commitment to sustain rebuilding efforts, Chairman and CEO Ann Felton Gilliland said.
Habitat built 60 houses after the May 3, 1999, tornado — in Moore, Oklahoma City, Bridge Creek and as far away as Mulhall — and plans at least as many after last Sunday and Monday's twisters, she said.
It will take money — and Felton Gilliland said she hopes that some of the money donated to storm relief finds it way to Central Oklahoma Habitat for when it comes time to actually start construction. Some did on Friday, when Hobby Lobby announced it plans to donate $1 million to Habitat, and $1 million to the Red Cross.
“It has been so heartening to see our neighbors coming together to respond so quickly to communities affected by this week's storms,” she said. “We're challenging the public to show a long-term commitment to rebuilding efforts by helping provide their fellow Oklahomans with one of life's most precious necessities: a safe affordable place to call home.”
Habitat will “blitz build” houses for tornado victims who meet the usual income guidelines and other qualifications — that means complete construction in three weeks.
Habitat homebuyers must be head of a household (can be a couple with or without children or a single person with or without children); at least a year of stable, well-paid rent and utility payment history and at least a year of stable work history; participation in financial planning and budgeting workshops and other required training; and willingness to put in at least 300 hours of “sweat equity” — working for Habitat.
People who lost homes but have lots to rebuild on are “fast-forwarded” through the process, Felton Gilliland said.
Habitat's Atlanta headquarters also is responding to tornado damage here and in Granbury, Texas. In Granbury, 57 of the houses destroyed or damaged were Habitat homes. Felton Gilliland said none of the houses affected here were built by Habitat.