Building Strong Homeowners with Habitat for Humanity

An interview with Bryan Hatcher, Director of Center Development and Education, CareNet, Inc., and Hilda Moore, Director of Family Services, Habitat for Humanity-Forsyth

Purchasing a home is stressful. When you add to the load that the homeowner is also dealing with financial stress, parenting stress, employment stress and more, it is extremely important that the new homeowner receive all the mental health help they can get.

Recognizing these life stressors and the true mental health issues that parallel this process, CareNet, Inc., has entered into a partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Forsyth County.

Around 90% of homeowners through Habitat for Humanity in Forsyth County are single parents and/or African-Americans. This population in particular does not usually seek counseling, sometimes because they cannot afford it or because of the stigma they associate with sharing personal information. Often when one challenge or stress happens in their life, they do not have the support structure they need to rebound or adapt. Habitat is especially excited for this opportunity for them to receive the support they need in order to be successful during this transition.

The result of this program is two-fold:

  • CareNet will provide mental health support for “approved”  homeowners, those earning sweat equity hours. They will attend four counseling sessions and receive 25 hours of sweat equity. The endorsement of so many hours from Habitat indicates their strong feelings about the needed support of mental health. After four sessions, the homeowners can continue counseling with a variety of payment options.
  • CareNet will provide “current/existing” homeowners with the same free four counseling sessions, though they are not required. They also can continue counseling with a variety of payment options.

In providing counseling services through CareNet, Habitat hopes to explore individual needs and enhance strengths, assist the homeowners in dealing with stress associated with purchasing a home, and assist the homeowners in developing coping skills to help ease the transition from renting to homeownership. Habitat is thrilled for this opportunity and the way it will change their residents’ lives.

The genius of this program is that it doesn’t cost CareNet or Habitat anything. CareNet can enter into this program without a financial stake because it is connected through the internship program as part of the requirements for a Masters in Mental Health Counseling.

Eventually, CareNet and Habitat would like to replicate this program across the state. Together they will strive to develop healthy coping skills and mental health across the state of North Carolina for new homeowners.

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