Habitat Choptank Celebrates Three Mortgage Burnings


Habitat for Humanity Choptank marked a major milestone at its annual volunteer appreciation dinner with a mortgage burning celebration.  Three home owners, having made the final loan payments on their homes during the last year, joined with Habitat volunteers, staff, and future home buyers for the ceremony. This milestone coincides with Habitat Choptank’s 25th anniversary.  The first mortgage burning was celebrated in 2014 and every year since at least one home owner has paid off.

Reverend Dartanyon Hines, of Scotts United Methodist Church in Trappe, led a special service to commemorate the occasion. One by one Glenda Dawson of Easton, Lillie Mae Mundy of Bellevue, and Mickey Hynson and Rasheme Chester of St. Michaels stepped forward for the ceremonial lighting of a copy of their original note.

The feeling of joy is evident for Lillie Mae Mundy as she burns a copy of her mortgage. Photo By: Jill Jasuta

While many will recognize Habitat for building and rehabbing homes, it is often less well known that Habitat affiliates serve as the primary lender for their home sales. In 2015 and following the lead of other rural Habitat affiliates, Habitat Choptank expanded its financing program to include the 502 Direct Loan with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in addition to traditional Habitat mortgages. Of the 75 homes that Habitat Choptank has completed since 1992, 71 were purchased with a zero-percent interest Habitat mortgage while four have been financed by USDA.

The use of no-interest or zero-equivalent low-interest loans is central to Habitat’s work of making home ownership affordable for individuals and families who cannot qualify for conventional financing. It is worth noting that while most Habitat home buyers are generally first-time and even first generation home buyers, the nonprofit continues to maintain a less than 2% foreclosure rate with only one foreclosure over its 25 year history.

However their loan is financed, Habitat home buyers assume the full responsibilities of home ownership: making monthly mortgage payments, paying home owner’s insurance and property taxes, and maintaining their homes. While the dream of home ownership has been made complete for the Dawson, Mundy and Hynson-Chester families with their final payments, their responsibilities as home owners continue.  Education and support are core components of Habitat’s housing program.  Volunteers from the Mortgage Servicing Committee have developed an educational workshop to help these and the other home owners who will be paying off their notes in the coming years to make sound financial and home maintenance plans for the future.

Since 1992, Habitat Choptank has empowered 75 working individuals and families from Talbot and Dorchester counties to build strength, stability and self-reliance through home ownership. Each buyer today contributes 300-400 hours of “sweat equity” in building houses in lieu of a down payment, attends education classes, eliminates any outstanding collectible debt, and saves $4,500 for costs at settlement.  Currently, ten buyers are working through Habitat’s partnership program toward the goal of becoming successful home owners.  Applications for home ownership are accepted throughout the year. For information about home ownership, to volunteer with Habitat Choptank or to make a donation, visit www.habitatchoptank.org or call 410-476-3204.

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