Rae’Shonda Presley and her 2-year-old son celebrate the begin of construction for their Habitat for Humanity of Metro Louisville home, the 500th built by the local organization. | Courtesy of Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity of Metro Louisville is building its 500th home for a local mother and her 2-year-old son.

The prospective new homeowner Rae’Shonda Presley said in a news release that she was grateful for the opportunity, which will enable her to provide her son with a safe place to play and grow up.

“My son is everything to me,” she said. “I’m doing this for him.”

Habitat provides low-income families access to homes, which, the organization said, improves the families’ financial situations and engagement in the community, as well as increases the likelihood for their children’s academic success.

To qualify, prospective homeowners have to invest 400 hours in activities, including homeowner education classes and working with the volunteers who build the homes with the support of community-based sponsors. Habitat homeowners get to buy homes at cost, with zero-interest loans.

“We are incredibly proud to serve partner homebuyers like Rae’Shonda because we see firsthand how a home can transform a family’s life for generations,” said Rob Locke, chief executive of Habitat for Humanity of Metro Louisville. “Homeownership is a powerful tool that affects everything from education to health. Our program has given low-income families access to at least $30 million in housing equity since we started.”

The local Habitat was founded in 1985 and built its first home on East Muhammad Ali Boulevard in the Phoenix Hill neighborhood. It has sheltered more than 2,200 people, including 1,600 children. Sixty-one Habitat homeowners have paid off their mortgages.

The organization has partnered with more than 200 businesses and faith-based groups, and it annually engages with more than 5,000 volunteers who donate more than 58,000 hours of labor. Habitat partnered with the Gheens Foundation on the 500th home.

Habitat said homeowners are 28 percent more likely to vote than people who do not own a home and 34 percent more likely to have a retirement account. Children of homeowners are more than 25 percent more likely to graduate from high school and more than twice as likely to graduate from college.

Habitat homeowners in Louisville also have paid more than $3.5 million in property taxes, according to the release.

Mayor Greg Fischer last week presented Habitat for Humanity of Metro Louisville with a special proclamation and plaque to commemorate the start of construction for the 500th home.

The organization plans to build at least 20 homes in Presley’s neighborhood of Richmont Terrace in the next three years.

Boris Ladwig is a reporter with more than 20 years of experience and has won awards from multiple journalism organizations in Indiana and Kentucky for feature series, news, First Amendment/community affairs, nondeadline news, criminal justice, business and investigative reporting. As part of The (Columbus, Indiana) Republic’s staff, he also won the Kent Cooper award, the top honor given by the Associated Press Managing Editors for the best overall news writing in the state. A graduate of Indiana State University, he is a soccer aficionado (Borussia Dortmund and 1. FC Köln), singer and travel enthusiast who has visited countries on five continents. He speaks fluent German, rudimentary French and bits of Spanish, Italian, Khmer and Mandarin.


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