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Family is first to pay off Habitat mortgage

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In February 2003, Pilar and Maria Limas moved into their new Habitat for Humanity home and were given 20 years to pay off the mortgage — they did it in 15, and are the first Habitat for Humanity family to fully own their home.

Habitat for Humanity officials and board members plan to celebrate the Limas family from 4-6 p.m. on Saturday by burning their mortgage contract and throwing a block party on Houston Street and Glorieta Drive.

“We want to celebrate the good news and the public is invited,” said Paul Campbell, Habitat for Humanity board president. “They (the Limas) are our first family that has paid off their mortgage. We’ve seen the process work the way it’s supposed to. They were absolutely the right people selected for the needs that they had. This is the true success story of what Habitat is all about. We’re really proud of them.”

The Limas’ home, located at 2804 N. Houston, was the third one built by Habitat for Humanity, after it was established in Hobbs in 2000. The house cost the family about $42,500 with no interest. The Limas were picked by Habitat for Humanity’s selection board after they found out Pilar was on disability after a work injury and was living in a 250-square-foot, one bedroom and one bathroom house with his wife and four daughters.

“A lot of different variables go into that selection process … it’s based on need,” Paul said. “One of the interesting parts of the story is we do house visits because we don’t just look at the application we want to go meet the family and the environment they’re in. No matter what environment they’re in (we want to know) do they still try and take care of it. (The Limas) really took care of it (their home) and kept it as nice as they could.”

Brenda Limas, Pilar’s and Maria’s daughter, said when her parents were selected for a new Habitat house it was what the family of six needed in order to live a more comfortable life.

“Not having your own space it was hard,” Brenda said. “In the (bedroom) there was two beds it was for my mom and dad and two or three sisters were in (the other) bed. My other sister stayed in the living room. Once my dad and mom were picked it was a really good feeling that I actually had a room and I had a little bit more space. It was three bedrooms and two restrooms.”

Pilar said moving into the new home was a relief for his family.

“We were comfortable because we were all cramped up,” he said in Spanish.

Paul said the Limas’ home was the first house Habitat for Humanity could carry the mortgage on and allowed the nonprofit to offer a home loan to the Limas. The two prior houses built by Habitat for Humanity were sold to the New Mexico Mortgage Financing Authority at a discounted price in order for nonprofit organizaiton to build more houses.

“The mortgage is interest free,” Paul said. “With no interest the payments are very affordable for people that need a break financially. The neatest part of this is when they make those payments we use that money to help build more homes. We were building one home per year … now we’re building five and six homes a year. We’re taking in more money so we’re able to build more homes. Eventually, you just build yourself with that income.”

William McBee, Habitat for Humanity board vice president, was on the board at the time the nonprofit selection team picked the Limas family for a new home in 2000. He said Habitat for Humanity has come a long way since they built the third house the Limas now own.

“I remember when we bought the 11 lots on that street (Houston) to build all the houses and here we are today on (house) 35,” he said. “The (J. F) Maddox Foundation has been instrumental. They were the ones that did the first organizational meeting (in 1997) and then we just spring boarded after that. They have been a partner since the get go. We got different grants and even back then we would get contractors that would donate their time and sometimes their materials. When somebody can’t help somebody steps in.”

Richard Sanchez, Habitat for Humanity executive director, said things have not changed since then with receiving help from the community to build houses. He said Hobbs is on track to build 43 more homes by the end of 2022.

“Houses are so expensive but we have so much help doing it,” Richard said. “We couldn’t sell the houses at the prices we build them without all the help that we get.”

The Limas family did not just get their home without putting their own hard work in building it and building other Habitat for Humanity homes in their neighborhood, which is Habitat for Humanity’s philosophy.

“The Habitat philosophy is it’s not a handout, it’s a hand up,” Paul said. “Each of the families have to get a minimum of 150 hours of ‘sweat equity’ themselves and they have to get their family and friends to come in and help them get hours.”

Richard said the Limas family was a great choice for a Habitat for Humanity home and have been a great example of how the nonprofit works.

“If you pass by their house you can see how good they’ve taken care of it,” Richard said. “That’s exactly what we want. (The Limas) are a true example of it (Habitat for Humanity) working at its finest. We feel what we do is important and when we get the right family and it works the way it’s supposed to we feel really good about it.”

Pilar said he is grateful for the opportunity Habitat for Humanity has given his family and said it feels good to own his home.

“We feel really happy and content,” Pilar said. “It’s a good feeling that we could pay something before the (due) date. We are super grateful for the opportunity that Habitat gave us.”

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