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Habitat for Humanity-North Central Georgia honored for high performance

FORSYTH COUNTY — The area chapter of a housing construction nonprofit has earned a coveted recognition to boast its work for low-income families in the community.

Habitat for Humanity-North Central Georgia’s 4-star rating, bestowed by Charity Navigator, the nation’s largest independent charity evaluator, was credited to its “sound fiscal management practice and commitment to accountability and transparency.”

In a statement, Charity Navigator COO Tim Gamory said the “rating puts it in a very select group of high-performing charities.”

“Out of the thousands of nonprofits Charity Navigator evaluates, only one out of four earns four stars — a rating that demands rigor, responsibility and commitment to openness,” he said. “Habitat North Central Georgia’s supporters should feel much more confident that their hard-earned dollars are being used efficiently and responsibly when it acquires such a high rating.”

The nonprofit, Christian housing ministry builds affordable homes for purchase by low-income families who demonstrate the capacity for responsible homeownership.

It does not give away homes. Partner families, who earn 30-60 percent of the Atlanta-area median income, buy them at or near appraised value with a 30-year no-interest financing provided by Habitat.

Each partner family is also required to attend educational classes and perform 200-300 hours of construction “sweat equity” on their home.

Since inception in 1995, the local chapter of the organization has completed 267 homes serving an estimated 1,000 family members in Forsyth, Dawson, Cherokee and northern Fulton counties.

Most recently reported was the groundbreaking of a home in north Forsyth for a family of eight.

The husband has been employed at the Forsyth County Sheriff’s office for 11 years, while the wife worked there for nearly that long before becoming a stay-at-home mother.

Since 2002, only the most fiscally responsible organizations have received a 4-star rating, said Kristyn Johnson of Habitat. In 2011, Charity Navigator added 17 metrics focusing on governance and ethical practices, as well as measures of openness, to its ratings.

According to a news release, these “accountability and transparency” metrics, which account for half of a charity’s overall score, reveal which organizations have “best practices” that minimize the chance of unethical activities and whether they freely share basic information about their company with their donors and other stakeholders.

“It’s important our donors trust that we’re using our funding wisely to provide affordable housing to families,” said Russ Hayes, CEO of Habitat North Central Georgia. “Our 4-star … rating demonstrates to our supporters that we take our fiduciary and governance responsibilities very seriously.”