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A new habitat
Six women living in a small, rundown house, now have a suitable home of their own
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Sequetta White and her family needed a new home. Six women can only live for so long in a house with one bathroom, no central heating and black trash bags over the moldy windows. 

Now she, her two daughters and three granddaughters own a four-bedroom, three-bathroom, remodeled home in Walker’s Bend and pay $231.70 a month thanks to Habitat for Humanity of Newton County and the Neighborhood Stabilization Program.

“I’m at a loss for words. I’m so excited, so happy,” White said Friday after she had signed the house deed at the law office of Alexander, Royston, Hardman, Shinall and Strickland, LLP.

“I’ve never owned my home before. It’s a huge upgrade. Our old house caught on fire during Christmas.”

Instead of worrying about drug deals and listening to gunshots in the neighborhood, White can rest easy along with her daughters, Jasmine, 21, and Hernequa, 20, and granddaughters Jaddah, 2, and twins Ny’asia and Ry’dasha, 2.

“It’s peaceful and quiet. I haven’t seen a police car drive through the neighborhood. When it’s dark we sleep. It’s just quiet,” White said Tuesday after the family moved into the home during the weekend.

The new home also benefits White’s granddaughter Jaddah, who has a hole in her ear drum, which affects her speech and requires a nurse to come to the home.

White and her family have been in the Habitat system for two to three years and part of the criteria is having immediate need.

Habitat chose the White family because it had been in the system for two to three years and was living in substandard living conditions with an immediate need for improvement. Habitat President Ayokah Harrison-Holmes said the size of the home also fit the family’s need.

In order to be eligible to purchase a home, families must meet low-income requirements, do a certain amount of volunteer work (known as sweat equity) and must complete financial, home ownership and home maintenances classes.

Habitat, for the city of Covington, has been using federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program money to purchase, remodel and resell homes in Walker’s Bend. The city has made it a priority to revitalize the neighborhood off Washington Street, just south of Turner Lake Road.

Habitat now has 17 families living in houses it sold them. The organization sold two homes last year, one on Pineneedle Drive and one in Walker’s Bend, as well as 10 townhomes in Walker’s Bend in 2010.

Harrison-Holmes said the organization’s goal is to get families into homes as soon as possible, and they’ll buy homes wherever that’s possible.

Because Habitat is selling the home for below market value, it has the first right to buy back the home up to 15 years after the sale. In its history, the local Habitat has only had one foreclosure it its history, and that was a family that refused to communicate with Habitat and was renting out the home for twice its mortgage payment, officials said. Habitat homes cannot be rented under the sale agreement.

“Victory, joy, tears,” said White when asked her first reaction when hearing she would become a homeowner. “I was jumping up and down, dancing.

“Sometimes it’s nerve-wracking (having six women in one home), but I wouldn’t change it for the world.”