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Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

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Habitat for Humanity of Wood County is looking for eligible partner families to build their own homes on three properties in Northwood.

The non-profit organization bought property on Owens Street, and is currently negotiating the acquisition of two parcels on Joseph Street, according to Tom Ehmke, the group’s executive director.

The group could lose grants if it doesn’t find partner families soon, said Ehmke.

“We have two $20,000 Community Housing Improvement Program (CHIP) grants that have to be used in the next building season, or we lose that money,” he said. “We were given a grant last year, and it’s a two year grant period. We were unable to find a partner family for whom we could build in Northwood, and now next year we need to have at least two families in order to use that grant money. So that’s an urgency here. We have a two to three month window to find a family so we could make sure they’re qualified before the building season begins in late April or early May.”

Eligibility is based on a family’s need, the ability to pay, and the willingness to partner, he said.

 

“Need means they’re living in some sort of inadequate housing. There could be too many people living in a small apartment, in a very leaky mobile home, or in a run-down rental. It could be any number of things,” he said.

A Family Selection Committee visits applicants to determine need and ability to pay, he added.

Selected families are required to pay a mortgage at no interest.

“We hold the mortgages on the homes that we build for the families, then they pay us a monthly payment just as though they were paying a bank, but at no interest. We can put a family in a three bedroom home with mortgage payments between $400-$500 per month, which includes escrowing property taxes and insurance. So it’s actually lower than most of them pay in their current rent payments,” said Ehmke.

The selection committee, after initial interviews of applicants, also does a credit check, he said.

“They do some extensive financial counseling with families to make sure they understand what they’re getting into, and maybe, for the first time, even understand how their own finances work. Then when the Family Selection Committee is satisfied that these people are qualified to partner, they present the family to the board. The board generally approves their selection, and then the families are turned over to the Family Support Committee, which counsels them.”

Once the family is selected and in family support, a construction committee shows them a floor plan, said Ehmke.

“If they want to make some minor changes in the floor plan, or make some additions, we modify the print to make sure they’re satisfied with what it is, then we schedule and begin the building process,” he said.

The building process takes 90 days or less, he said.

“We have done them in 60 days, but never more than 90,”

A standard three bedroom floor plan is 1,100 square feet, and a four bedroom floor plan is 1,200 square feet.

“We just completed our first and only five bedroom floor plan this season in Weston because we had a family with six children that we accepted. We don’t do that all the time. Depends on the need. We may even wind up building for a family of one next year because we have someone who is eligible. It’s unusual to build for a one person family, but they qualify,” he said.

The group has constructed at least five homes in Northwood.

“Since 1991, when we were organized as a chapter of the Maumee Valley Habitat for Humanity Affiliate, we have built 23 homes,” said Ehmke.

For more information, contact Habitat for Humanity of Wood County at 419-353-5430, or visit the organization’s Web site at http://habitatwoodcounty.org where the public can print out an application form.

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