The Fernandina Beach Rotary Club recently welcomed Nassau County Habitat for Humanity Development Committee Chair Al Pertuz as a guest speaker. Pertuz said Habitat for Humanity (HFH) – a Christian mission dedicated to providing affordable housing to the underserved – was founded by Millard Fuller in 1976. The Nassau County HFH organization was established in 1994 and focuses on eliminating substandard housing for our area’s working poor: waitresses, janitors and service workers who are employed, but cannot afford their own home. The all-volunteer group, which constructs an average of two houses each year, has built 31 houses in Fernandina Beach as well as one each in Yulee and Callahan. Pertuz said that half of Nassau HFH’s $150,000 budget comes from local donations and half from the no-interest mortgages being repaid by those for whom the houses are built. Potential HFH homeowners must have a steady, two-year employment history, a down payment and provide at least 300 hours of sweat equity to be eligible to purchase one of the small, but well-built and equipped homes. Their mortgage – usually around $65,000 – is based solely on the actual cost of purchasing the building site and hiring some outside contractors. The homeowner must reside in the home until the mortgage is paid or sell the it back to Nassau HFH for the equity earned. Once the mortgage is satisfied, the homeowner can sell the home on the open market. Pertuz said 32 of the homes the organization has built are still occupied by the original homeowners.