Family gets new home for the holidays

Published 5:35 pm Monday, December 2, 2013


ALABASTER – The phrase “home for the holidays” has a whole new meaning for new homeowner Erica Johnson.

Johnson, through Habitat for Humanity of Greater Birmingham, received the keys to her very first home Dec. 2. She plans to move in the weekend before Christmas with her two daughters, Britney, 13, and Amiyah, 12.

“I want to spend Christmas here,” Johnson said of her new home, which is located in Alabaster. “That’s my plan. I’m ready.”

Johnson is one of more than 1,200 people who have been helped by the Birmingham division of Habitat and one of more than 600 individuals who have closed on homes because of the organization.

Johnson received the keys to her new home in Alabaster after putting in more than 300 service hours on her home and others’ homes and after taking 12 hours of classes on topics ranging from budgeting to home repair to insurance to understanding mortgages. Johnson’s zero-interest, monthly mortgage payments will go back to the organization and be reinvested into future homes for future Habitat for Humanity partners.

“For anyone that is thinking about buying a home, Habitat for Humanity is a great way to do it,” said Johnson, who had been looking for a home off-and-on for the last 14 years before getting one through Habitat.

“Renting, I never owned,” Johnson said. “That’s the difference. (This house) is mine.”

Johnson’s two-story home was a rehabilitation project, or a renovation of an existing home.

Beth Brander, vice president of marketing and development for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Birmingham, said the house was acquired by Habitat because of a national partnership with Bank of America, which has pledged 2,000 homes nationwide to Habitat affiliates.

Johnson’s new home sat on the market for several years before being acquired by Habitat and undergoing renovations, Brander said.

The six-week renovation included painting and replacing drywall, copper piping, flooring and the entire roof, Johnson said.

Funding for the home was provided by the Shelby County-based accounting firm Barfield Murphy Shank and Smith, LLC, which provided all renovation materials and more than 100 volunteers and 800 volunteer hours.

“We’ve been (working with Habitat) for more than 10 years,” said Marketing Coordinator Lacey Bacchus. “This is our seventh year doing a full sponsorship (of a family), but this was the first year we did a renovation. We were excited to do one (in Shelby County) because it’s closer to where our employees live. We’re very excited for Erica and her family.”