Two Habitat Homebuyers Close on First Homes; Open Door to More Secure Future


Hickory, NC (July 18th, 2023)-

On Tuesday afternoon, Habitat celebrated closings on its two most recently constructed homes, and two families received the keys to a more secure future. Melissa Cruse and Sharon Gadson represent the newest homeowners who have partnered with Habitat Catawba Valley to build and buy a home of their very own.

Melissa is a mother of 4, and grandmother of two who also serves as a program director for a local non-profit. Sharon is a mother of a Hickory High School student and has worked locally for a corporate uniform provider for the past 2 years. “I’m beyond excited about the new house. My red door and my two trees look amazing,” shared Cruse.

Closing on their homes and opening the door to their next chapter as homeowners is the culmination of a journey that both women began during the pandemic. In addition to building their own home, all Habitat Homebuyers attend budgeting and financial management classes, perform sweat equity hours, and pay an affordable mortgage. Unlike traditional mortgages, Habitat sets mortgage payments at 24% of a family’s income, and provides additional resources from partnering organizations to help keep the cost affordable – including Habitat Catawba Valley’s own in-house down payment assistance. Last year, the average down payment assistance provided by Habitat was $32,633.08 per family.


“I truly believe I would not have had the faith or trust to buy from a traditional lender in a traditional way. But I have never doubted my choice with Habitat. I don’t question the quality of the house. I’m not worried about hidden fine print,” said Cruse.

Cruse and Gadson will be the newest neighbors in Habitat’s Cottages at Ridgeview neighborhood. The Cottages at Ridgeview is a traditional Habitat-built mixed-income community with 4 completed homes, 5 homes under construction, and 6 more on the way. A combination of traditional Habitat homeownership and homes sold on the open market to increase the local workforce housing stock, this project acquired empty lots and vacant buildings and is constructing new, energy efficient craftsmen-styled cottages in their place.

Other Habitat projects in the community include a new 3 tiered construction model, aimed at serving more families faster. “Last year, we received 367 homeownership inquiries. That’s more than a family a day seeking more secure shelter,” explains Habitat Catawba Valley Executive Director Mitzi Gellman. “We know the need for affordable housing outpaces any individual organization’s ability to provide it on their own. The traditional Habitat construction model of a small staff and willing but unskilled volunteers was not designed for today’s housing demand.”

That’s why Habitat Catawba Valley has joined with key partners to diversify its construction model, increase its capacity, and participate in larger, more coordinated projects. This tiered construction model includes traditional Habitat construction where Habitat is the sole builder, hybrid construction where a contractor frames the house and Habitat finishes it, and turnkey construction where a contractor builds the house from start to finish.
Today, Habitat Catawba Valley currently has homes underway in all three tiers of this construction model – including Ridgefield Place in Ridgeview. This project is a public, private, non-profit partnership between Habitat Catawba Valley, The City of Hickory, and JRN Development slated for 21 new construction affordable homes.

What will the future hold for Habitat’s newest homeowners?

For Gadson and her son, it means more quality time. “We enjoy watching movies and cooking together. I graduated with an Associate’s Degree in Culinary Arts. I have a strong passion for cooking and trying out different recipes.”

For the Cruse family, it means laying down roots. “Lots of kids will grow up in this home as I imagine it will be the central, permanent location for everyone in the family. This yard will hold little feet for years to come. These walls and roof will keep little heads safe and sound.”

For more information on the Cottages at Ridgeview and ways to get involved, contact Habitat Catawba Valley at 828-328-4663 x 106 or visit


About Habitat Catawba Valley
Founded in 1985, Habitat for Humanity of Catawba Valley is a non-profit, ecumenical Christian housing organization dedicated to building strength, stability, and self-reliance through shelter.

People in our community partner with Habitat Catawba Valley to build or improve a place they can call home. Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage. Through financial support, volunteering, or adding a voice to support affordable housing, everyone can help families achieve security they need to build better lives for themselves. Through shelter, we empower. To learn more, visit or call 828-328-4663 x 106.

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