Trenholm Road UMC makes a difference with Habitat for Humanity

By David Free

COLUMBIA—At one time, faith-based organizations were responsible for building the majority of the Habitat for Humanity Houses in South Carolina. Currently, only around 10 percent of the Habitat houses are built by faith-based organizations.

One driver of this trend is the major increase in housing costs. Since the pandemic, the cost of affordable housing has continued to skyrocket, and currently a Habitat house in South Carolina averages around $165,000 to build. 

Recognizing this problem, Central South Carolina Habitat for Humanity established a Faith Committee to engage faith-based organizations to help reverse this trend.  Habit for Humanity decided to promote a “Faith Build” Habitat house that would be built exclusively by faith-based organizations. 

Eastminster Presbyterian, Columbia, jumped on board as the major sponsor for the project, also reaching out to their neighbor, Trenholm Road United Methodist Church, Columbia, who answered the call.

Initially, Carl Cox from Habitat for Humanity made a presentation to the TRUMC United Methodist Men at their annual Fall Feast Dinner. There he laid out all the specific details for building a Habitat house.  Cox explained that the Habitat homeowners actually purchase their houses with no down payment and a 0 percent interest, 15-year loan, making the mortgage very affordable and typically below 25 percent of the new owner’s take-home pay. 

In addition to 50 hours of financial education the homeowner must receive, each partnered family is required to invest 400 hours of sweat equity before they can move into a Habitat house.

Habitat for Humanity does not just give away houses; they help build affordable housing. Since 1985, Central SC Habitat helped build more than 280 houses.

After much prayer, especially on how to fund such a large mission project, the TRUMC UMM decided to lead the way by promoting this mission effort to their entire congregation.  The UMM held a churchwide oyster roast to raise money and to help bring awareness to this important “Faith Build” Habitat House.  In less than a month, more than enough funds were raised at TRUMC by many generous individuals, Sunday school classes and The Foundation of TRUMC to provide their portion of the funding.

This is truly a “community” faith-based mission project. In addition to TRUMC and Eastminster Presbyterian, other churches that helped included Shandon UMC, Columbia; Lexington UMC, Lexington; Shandon Presbyterian, Columbia, the West Metro Alliance of Churches, Westminster Presbyterian, Columbia; and the DeLoache Family Foundation.

TRUMC was responsible for five days of the on-site construction work at the Habitat House located in West Columbia, and some 80 different volunteers collectively worked more than 400 construction service hours to help build the house. 

The homeowner, Lucinda, has two children who will be living in the home with her. She has been on-site regularly helping work to get her house completed.

This Habitat House has not only been a great opportunity for TRUMC to give back to the community, but all their missional efforts will surely help change Lucinda and her family’s lives for the better.  Lending a helping hand to your neighbor is what life is all about, which echoes what Jesus said: “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40 NIV).

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