Three homes in the county currently are receiving repairs through Habitat for Humanity’s Critical Home Repair Program, according to Laurie Lucas, Habitat executive director, and Zach Pettenger, Habitat board vice president. Andrea Agler/Paulding County Progress
Three homes in the county currently are receiving repairs through Habitat for Humanity’s Critical Home Repair Program, according to Laurie Lucas, Habitat executive director, and Zach Pettenger, Habitat board vice president. Andrea Agler/Paulding County Progress
By ANDREA AGLER

Correspondent

In the fall of 2018, the Paulding County Habitat for Humanity began sponsoring the Critical Home Repair Program. The program, which is part of Habitat for Humanity International, provides low-cost home improvement repair and renovation to low-income families.

Habitat for Humanity is well-known to many as the group that builds houses. The Paulding County chapter is still involved in home building, but it takes three years, on average, to build a house for a family in need. The home repair program allows the organization to reach more families in a shorter time period, and at the same time, helps the local chapter stay in good standing with Habitat International.

Zach Pettenger, Paulding County Habitat vice president stated, “The repair program is another way to reach out and help more individuals in Paulding County.”

In order for a family to qualify for the Critical Home Repair Program, several requirements must be met.

A pre-qualification form must be filled out, which includes several questions regarding home ownership, income and expenses. There is a sliding scale for materials cost and loan repayment, provided by HUD (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development). HUD provides the scale for Area Median Income, or AMI, for every county in the nation. Paulding County’s current AMI is $49,450. The numbers are based on a family size of four, and are adjusted accordingly if needed.

Depending on where a family’s AMI falls on the scale, a percentage is calculated as to what amount that family will pay of the repair materials. For example, if a family applies for assistance from this program, and has an AMI of $7,912-$9,890, that family would fall under the 16-20% HUD AMI, so 20% of the building materials would be the family’s responsibility, and the program would pay for the rest.

Other conditions must also be met before a family is approved. If the property taxes and/or homeowner insurance is not paid up to date, the pre-qualification is placed on hold until everything is current.

Once a family is pre-approved by the committee, a more lengthy application must be completed, and other checks must be finalized. Qualifying families must provide a downpayment of $50 to $100, must pay back their portion or percentage of materials (as previously calculated), and must also agree to complete “sweat equity”, or volunteer hours.

Sweat equity can take on many different forms, and the committee will work with each individual to find ways in which recipients can best help, within their physical capacity.

The repair program covers many different types of home renovation. According to the program’s website, “Only repairs addressing health, safety, accessibility issues, or preservation of structural integrity will be considered.”

Some types of repair include lead paint removal, furnace replacement, roof repair or replacement, new windows, addition of wheelchair ramps, new flooring, new water heaters, drywall repair, electrical and plumbing repair and more.

All of these repairs cost money. Laurie Lucas, executive director of Paulding County Habitat for Humanity, indicated their building budget is funded solely by fundraisers. There are two major fundraisers each year – a golf outing in May, and a Hog Run 5K and Community Luncheon on the first Saturday in October.

“We raised around $2,500 at our golf outing last year, and between $12,000 and $15,000 at the Hog Run. We are looking at adding a poker run in the future,” said Lucas.

Community volunteers are also vital to Habitat’s success. The committee, board members and volunteers all make the work possible at these homes. Currently, there are three homes in various stages of repair across the county. Habitat is always looking for more individuals who are willing and able to help out.

For Lucas and Pettenger, the home repair program is more than just fixing houses.

“We want to see people in our community take pride in their homes, and pass that on to their families,” said Lucas.

Pettenger concurred, stating, “We’re here to help the people in our community have better living conditions. But, we also want to establish real relationships.”

Those interested in the home repair program, volunteering, or just learning more about Habitat in general, can log on to their website, www.habitatpauldingcounty.org/ or call 419-399-4791.