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Article Archive >> Community

Building Homes! Rebuilding Lives! Five Things Needed For A Habitat House!

Building Homes! Rebuilding Lives!
Five Things Needed For A Habitat House!

Habitat for Humanity of Washington County needs five things before starting a house...Family...Property...Funds...Volunteers...Love!
The Family Services Committee must find the families in need of decent, affordable housing. Interested families are given material about the requirements of being a Habitat homeowner. They learn that the Habitat ministry is a "hand-up, not a hand-out." If after reading the material, they meet the income guidelines and wish to participate, they fill out an application. If approved, the family selected must make a modest down payment; meet income guidelines and repay a non-profit, interest-free loan. The family also puts in 500 sweat-equity hours. "Sweat-equity" refers to the actual hands-on work on a Habitat house or in some other Habitat activity participation.
Property is a major issue. The Site Selection Committee is on constant lookout for available property on which to build. "Land! That's one of our biggest needs right now," said Sherry Brown Cooper, Executive Director of the local Habitat affiliate.
Until a few years ago, Habitat was the recipient of land donations, or land was sold to the agency at a substantially reduced price, thus providing the seller with substantial tax-relief benefits. Recently Habitat has found it had to set a spending policy on what it could afford to pay for a building lot. "Affordable land is becoming hard to find," she said. "Assuming no building materials are donated or sold below retail, it costs about $65,000 to build a Habitat home in Washington County."
Funding a Habitat home requires great effort on Habitat staff and volunteers. The major fund-raiser is the annual dinner auction held each Spring in Hagerstown, This year's event was held in March at the Hagerstown Community College ARCC building. It was another sell-out crowd of more than 560 people. The event raised $72,000 for the Habitat building fund.
Major donations, and house sponsorships from firms, individuals, organizations and churches have helped Habitat build homes over the years. Some organizations donate material and services in addition to money.
Building a Habitat home for a family doesn't "just happen." It is a teamwork effort. It takes more than the family, more than the volunteers, more than the Habitat organization. It needs partners. It needs you. Any person or group interested in partnering to build a house may contact the local Habitat office.
Volunteers are needed to help build, assist in the office work, serve on committees and help on special projects that benefit the organization. Since volunteer's time commitments may vary, they can choose to work as little or as much as their schedules permit. Volunteers skilled in all facets of construction are needed to guide our many unskilled workers.
And then there is that fifth item that is needed...Love! It is actually the first of the five things needed to build a Habitat home. It was the premise for the beginning of the organization. This entire program was build on "Love thy neighbor." It is still true today! The volunteers work for the love of helping their less fortunate neighbors obtain decent, affordable housing. When people reach out to help others, they change lives. When they build a home, they are rebuilding lives.
Consider how you can help, then call 301-791-9009, and make your commitment.

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

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