Bell County Habitat for Humanity

Volunteers with the Bell County Habitat for Humanity start work Saturday on the nonprofit’s 65th house in the 800 block of Carter Street in Killeen.

After four years of waiting, Earl Johnson stood in front of the foundation of his future home, ready to realize a dream during a groundbreaking ceremony Saturday in the 800 block of Carter Street.

Johnson applied for a home through the Bell County Habitat for Humanity when he moved to Killeen from Mississippi in 2008.

“It’s been a long wait,” said the single father of five. “It feels great to finally get the house started.”

This is the nonprofit’s 65th home, which owners purchase with a no-interest mortgage. The nonprofit tries to make the homes as affordable as possible. This one will cost between $60,000 and $65,000 to build, said TJ Conner, executive director for Bell County Habitat for Humanity. “That’s the price we’ll sell it at.”

The habitat houses are built by volunteers, who come every Friday and Saturday and help keep labor costs to a minimum, she said. “You don’t have to have skills. We’ll teach you what you need to know that day.”

The selection process for receiving a home is in-depth. It considers an applicant’s need, income and partnership, which means a recipient must donate 300 hours of volunteer time to the nonprofit.

That’s something Johnson said will make him better appreciate his new home.

“I was helping someone get their home,” he said. “Now it’s just like full-circle and everybody gets their chance.”

Johnson wants to make Killeen his permanent home and looks forward to being able to buy a home instead of renting one.

The five bedroom, two bath home is the largest the local Habitat affiliate has built.

“It’s going to be a nice size,” Johnson said.

Although his son, Tavis, is too young to volunteer during construction, he’s looking forward to helping put the finishing touches on the home as it nears completion in February or March.

“It’s just a blessing,” he said.

For more information about applying for a home or to volunteer, call (254) 680-4007.

Contact Sarah Rafique at or (254) 501-7549. Follow her on Twitter at KDHreporter.

I'm the education reporter at the Killeen Daily Herald. Follow me on Twitter at

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