Holmes Habitat for Humanity seeking 2023 applicants

Holmes Habitat for Humanity seeking 2023 applicants

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As spring sweeps across the rolling hills, the Holmes County chapter of Habitat for Humanity is seeking applicants for 2023. New executive director Keith Wengerd is excited to get the ball rolling with as many new applicants as he can. Wengerd was hired and took over in January for retiring director Mary Neutzling, who was in the position for many years.

The deadline for applications to be turned in is April 15. Applications can be picked up in a packet at the Holmes County Library or Park National Bank. This is a new perk for getting an application, and there is no need for an appointment to pick one up as had been done in the past. Once the application is filled out, it must be returned as soon as possible to be considered.

Holmes County Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit, Christian housing ministry dedicated to providing shelter and partnership for Holmes County families in need of decent, affordable housing. Habitat builds homes at a reduced cost, helping families with limited income who are ready to use their own sweat equity.

Certain criteria must be met by a family or individual before being considered. There must be a need for suitable housing — examples being living in a poor structure or high rent. Applicants must have the ability to make an affordable monthly house payment, as the home is sold to the family and mortgaged for 25-30 years interest-free, and applicants must be willing to partner with Habitat in the form of sweat equity.

This is defined as performing work on other Habitat homes and their own, participating and successfully completing a financial course provided by the OSU Extension, and working with family support personnel for approximately three years before, during and after the process. A willingness to participate in other Habitat activities like fundraisers and social-media events must be shown as well.

The family selection committee will review the applications, determine which ones will be most eligible, and then begin interviews and home visits with the selected applicants. Once interviews are complete, the committee will meet and make a final determination as to which families to present to the board for final approval.

A groundbreaking for the Heather Fortune family, the 2022 applicant chosen for a home, was held April 5. Construction is set to begin on the Hebron Street location on April 11.

“We look at this as a hand up, not a handout,” Wengerd said.

The Holmes County commissioners have partnered with Habitat for Humanity for almost 11 years with a grant from the Ohio Department of Housing and Economic Development. This grant has helped to drastically reduce the cost of the homes.

Coming in as a fresh face to the organization, especially to the Holmes County chapter, Wengerd has a lot of new ideas on what could be brought to the local organization and area through Habitat for Humanity. New ventures and thoughts are bubbling up and could take shape in the coming years. With the help and input of the Habitat board, there will be lots of items on the agenda to be discussed.

For anyone with questions on the process, the application or becoming involved in Habitat, call Wengerd at 330-674-4663 or email him at director@holmescountyhabitat.org.

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