Cambridge welcomes new Habitat homeowner to Oakley Street

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Special to Dorchester Banner/Jill Jasuta
Sha’Quinda Demby celebrates the purchase of her first home with some of the friends from Habitat Choptank who helped to renovate the three bedroom house. From left to right: Gene Skinner, Ms. Demby, Donna Towers and Wayne Towers.

CAMBRIDGE – The Oakley Street neighborhood in Cambridge welcomed a new homeowner in November with the sale of Habitat for Humanity Choptank’s 68th house. This is the 13th affordable home ownership opportunity created in Cambridge since concerned community members began organizing a Habitat effort in Dorchester County in 2005.

The house at 443 Oakley was listed for sale earlier this year as a bank owned property. Using a special one-time grant from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, Habitat Choptank has been able to acquire several vacant and foreclosed single family homes for rehab including the Oakley property. Over the last six months, volunteers renovated the house using durable materials and adding energy efficiency features so that the finished home is comparable in quality to Habitat’s standards for new construction.

With regard to new construction, Habitat Choptank is building a single family home next door at 441 Oakley. This is the first time that the nonprofit has had a renovation project and new build underway concurrently on adjacent lots.

Habitat homebuyers are working people who cannot qualify for conventional financing but who earn enough to assume the responsibilities of home ownership when provided with ‘right-size mortgages.’ Homes are sold for the cost to complete and with no profit to Habitat. Each house must serve as the buyer’s residence during the life of the mortgage.

The Oakley house was purchased by Cambridge resident Sha’Quinda Demby who is employed with Majors Transportation as a bus driver. Following settlement, Ms. Demby assumes the full responsibilities of homeownership: repaying her mortgage over the next 30 years, maintaining her home, and paying homeowner’s insurance and property taxes. With these responsibilities, also comes joy and sense of accomplishment for Ms. Demby having achieved the dream of homeownership.

“Pumpkin had set a personal goal of buying her first home by the time she turns 30,” explained Habitat Choptank volunteer Robin Stanley in introducing Pumpkin during the recent home dedication celebration. “Now, she is 29 years old and a homeowner.”

Throughout the recent dedication program, several presenters commented on Ms. Demby’s strong work ethic. Construction supervisor Rhodana Fields shared that “from the first day that Pumpkin arrived up the construction site, she said that she wanted to learn how to do everything.” Ms. Demby progressed through Habitat Choptank’s pre-home ownership program at a record pace. She provisionally qualified for financing in April 2015 and went on to complete over 300 hours of sweat equity, save $4,500 for costs at settlement and eliminate any outstanding debt in order to purchase the renovated three-bedroom home on Nov. 19.

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