USM students supporting evicted Habitat homeowner - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

USM students supporting evicted Habitat homeowner

Melissa Carpenter (right) celebrates the dedication of her Habitat for Humanity home on Sept. 10, 2011. Melissa Carpenter (right) celebrates the dedication of her Habitat for Humanity home on Sept. 10, 2011.
HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) -

Dozens of students at The University of Southern Mississippi are reaching out to help a university employee who was evicted from her Habitat for Humanity home and told she had to leave months after moving in.

The students say they have received hundreds of signatures on petitions in support of Student Activities Secretary Melissa Carpenter.

Carpenter was the recipient of a home in late 2011 from the Hattiesburg Area Habitat for Humanity. She was evicted on Monday after Habitat officials told her she violated her agreement with the organization by purchasing a car, which adversely affected her debt-to-income ratio, she said. Carpenter claims she didn't know she violated the agreement and said she needed the car.

The students behind the petition drives are hoping to convince the Habitat for Humanity organization to let Carpenter keep her home.

"We wanted to show Habitat for Humanity or whoever is going to see this that it's not just miss Melissa's life, students are backing her up," said Ryan Jones, one of the students who began the petition drives. "It's not just me, it's not just five, 20, 30, 40. I know as of [Tuesday], we had just put the petition online, and it's already 355 signatures," Jones added.

Wednesday evening, Hattiesburg Area Habitat for Humanity Board of Directors President Susan Higgs said her organization had worked with Carpenter for a long time to resolve the issue and said it was a closed case.  

Higgs also released a more detailed statement, which follows:

"On Tuesday, April 10, 2012, the Board of Directors of Hattiesburg Area Habitat for Humanity (HAHFH) voted to deselect Melissa Carpenter from the program.

Ms. Carpenter failed to meet the requirements set forth in HAHFH's policies concerning its partners, despite being afforded numerous opportunities to become compliant.

This was a difficult decision for the Board, but one that was required in order to maintain the integrity of HAHFH's mission and policies, as well as to remain fair to all of HAHFH's partners and applicants. 

We wish Ms. Carpenter the best in her future endeavors." 

Higgs said Carpenter could re-apply to the organization if she chose to do so.  

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