Minister Lee Jeter, is Sr. Executive Director of the Fuller Center for Housing of Northwest, Louisiana.
Minister Lee Jeter is a man on fire, a man on a mission.
He feels called by God to help people lift themselves out of poverty. But this minister does more than preach about it. His organization has built 40 new homes for poor, struggling families in the Allendale area. His group is committed to building a total of 60 homes in Allendale. Then he wants to start in the Cedar Grove area.
The Fuller Center for Housing of Northwest Louisiana, a faith driven and Christ centered ministry, offers an opportunity for partnerships between local philanthropy and the Church. “We are interested in promoting economic development, eliminating substandard housing, improving the quality of life and striving for a better world among low-income families,” says Jeter.
The Fuller Center was created by Millard Fuller, the founder of Habitat for Humanity in December of 2005. The initial purpose of the Fuller Center was to provide new homes for low income families who were displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Many of the recipients are Katrina survivors; however the program expanded to serve people in general who live at or below the poverty line.
The Fuller Center’s approach is comprehensive. Their objective is to improve entire communities by helping responsible people become financially stable owners of homes in low-income communities.
First, they purchase tracts of adjudicated properties from the city. The center is careful to purchase four or five lots together to avoid building a new or renovated home next to an abandoned or dilapidated property. This also allows the center to put enough families in a neighborhood to make an impact.
Fuller Center then locates persons who may have financial challenges but are willing to improve themselves and become home owners. The families must meet certain criteria, which include a stable income and a credit review that shows at least a willingness to pay bills based on income.
Participants who are accepted must agree to pay one fourth of the closing cost, which is generally $1,100. They are given ten months to generate this amount while receiving homeownership training and credit counseling, which are requirements. Participants must agree to put 350 hours of “sweat equity” into the building of the homes.
Each home recipient family must actually help build the home they are going to occupy. They can enlist the help of friends or church members to provide up to 150 hours of this labor. Of course they are supervised by professionals in whatever work they do. “We’re trying to do more than give them a handout. We want them to have a sense of ownership and responsibility for the entire process,” Jeter explained. “We even hope that the skills they learn from helping to build the homes will enable them to do some of the repairs that any home needs as time passes,” he added.
Note– This text contains excerpts from an article written by J. Kojo Livingston.
The article was published in the Shreveport Sun Newspaper.