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Building Homes, Rebuilding Lives! A Commitment Driven Movement

Building Homes, Rebuilding Lives!
A Commitment Driven Movement

Recently, a group of men and women met in Hagerstown to make a commitment--a commitment to one another, a commitment to the community, a commitment to a God-driven movement. It was a commitment to serve as members of the Board of Directors of Habitat for Humanity of Washington County.
These directors, some just starting their first term and others continuing into their second term, are committed to helping Habitat provide a unique opportunity for people to own their own home. They are committed because they believe there's more to the movement than just building a house.
Millard Fuller, founder of Habitat for Humanity International states, "If Habitat were primarily a movement of individuals there would be nothing lasting to it. But this is God's movement, and there's nothing that can stop it."
It is the belief that every family should have safe, affordable housing. This is the foundation of Habitat, and what motivates, not only the Board, its officers, and the Habitat staff, but it is the driving force behind the many volunteers, and supporters of the program as well.
But why own a home? Why should all the Habitat volunteers use their time and money to help other people build their own home? Why not just provide safe shelter? Why home ownership? Most of those needing these home have low-incomes and can just make rent payments. How can they possibly overcome the issue of making a down payment? How can they possibly ever become homeowners?
But even then, being a homeowner does not guarantee safe and decent housing. Often the homes that are owned are nothing but dilapidated shacks without plumbing or electricity. There's nothing safe and decent about them.
Well the answer to that is Habitat for Humanity. It addresses the critical problem of crowded, unsafe, inadequate housing for those living below the poverty level.
It works in partnership with needy families to meet these housing challenges in our community. The homes are built with volunteer labor and the "sweat equity" of the approved applicant for home ownership. The applicant's family must contribute 500 hours of labor with Habitat before taking title to the home. Habitat sells the homes at no profit and offers a zero interest mortgage. Payments from the homeowners are used to build more homes.
And why home ownership? It's better for the communities. A rental family moves more frequently, into and out of school districts. Neighborhoods with higher rates of homeownership tend to be more stable. They become people with a vested interest in their neighborhood.
For more information on Habitat, call 301-791-9009.

William L. Bulla is a freelance writer residing in Washington County.

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