KANNAPOLIS, N.C. — According to Construction Coverage, a Los Angeles-based construction content website, only 38% of homes in the U.S. are paid off. Audrea Chapman says this is a minority she’s happy to be a part of. 

Twenty years ago, Chapman lived with her mother and stepfather, sharing a room with her 5-year-old son. She says she had plans of eventually owning a home and hoped her dreams would become reality through Habitat for Humanity.

What You Need To Know

  • Twenty years ago, Audrea Chapman lived with her parents and shared a room with her son

  • Chapman says for 30 days she prayed Habitat for Humanity would choose her for their first-time homeowners program

  • Last month, Chapman officially became a homeowner after 20 years of mortgage payments

“I had been praying for 30 days that the Lord would change Habitat’s heart, the committee's heart so I could get a home,” Chapman said. Chapman sits on the porch of the home she now owns, recalling her faith during the waiting period before she was selected as a recipient of Habitat for Humanity's affordable housing program.

Chapman says the process wasn’t easy. The committee considered credit worthiness, financial stability and living conditions. Chapman also had to volunteer. But she says her upbringing encouraged her to change her legacy. 

“I saw my mom struggle so much as a child. I think me and my brother just got in our minds, we didn’t want to repeat. So we just wanted to do better,” she said. 

Twenty years after living with her mother and stepfather, Chapman made her final payment on her home. 

“They always will have a home. A paid for home. They shouldn't be homeless ever. They can keep it. It will always be in our family forever. I may buy something else but it will be in our family forever,” she said. 

Chapman wanted to do more than just help her own family, so she joined Habitat for Humanity's board of directors to help other first-time homeowners. 

“I think it’s a good opportunity for a homeowner to be on the board. We can share what we were up against...Having someone like me on the board is inspiration to others," Chapman said. 

Habitat for Humanity Cabarrus representatives say during the pandemic, none of their homeowners missed a mortgage payment. One of the board of directors spoke about how they made this possible. 

Habitat for Humanity CEO Bill Shelton said training for any circumstance prepared homeowners.

Shelton says Chapman is the gold standard of what the nonprofit hopes to do: Help first-time owners pay off their home, then pay it forward to the next person.