Habitat for Humanity contemplates building until partner is located

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MANCHESTER >> The Bennington Area Habitat for Humanity (BAHfH) is seeking a partner homebuyer who is in need of better living conditions to live in Manchester and Bennington this spring.

To qualify, a single person must make $13,600, a family of two, $24,000 and $59,300 for a family of eight.

Susan Sommer, executive director of BAHfH, said people have been applying, but get stuck in the process of realizing that their debt-to-income ratio won't cover monthly payments, so it turns into a difficult application process. For quality housing, monthly payments, taxes and insurance for a habitat home surface around $700 to $850.

The organization builds homes for families who may not be entitled to a mortgage and cannot afford a home in the area. Homes are built by volunteers as well as the family members themselves through a form of sweat equity. The home is then sold at a low cost, leaving the mortgage to equal less than what rent would amount to, according to a release from BAHfH.

"We encourage anybody that wants to apply to call the office and talk about the application process," she said. "We have a great opportunity to help three homebuyers in 2016. It's very exciting."

Sommer explained that it isn't likely a house would be built and not sell, but the federal home loan grants that BAHfH uses to purchase and build the properties have deadlines. It wouldn't be until after the organization's board meeting next week that will determine whether or not building will begin without a partner homebuyer.

"We would really like to start building, but we don't have a partner family selected yet, simply because no one has made it through the process to be selected," she said. "It is a conversation the board has to have."

Currently, construction is wrapping up in Manchester on Jennifer Lane at the Gordon home and the dedication will be on March 6 at 3 p.m. Additional projects include rehabbing a home at 334 North Branch St. in Bennington that includes painting and putting in new flooring. Furthermore, volunteers will continue to build on Jennifer Lane and North Branch Street in late May.

Sommer said there isn't a buyer selected yet for the 334 North Branch Street home.

"We're more comfortable to start building when we know we have a family," she said. "If we build two bedrooms and the family that gets selected wants three bedrooms instead ... and so on, it will be difficult."

In the last six houses that BAHfH constructed, buyers made 50 to 60 percent of the area's income range. A very low income, or 30 percent, is the requirement for a single buyer whereas 50 percent would be $22,650 and 80 percent is $30,615.

"They [those interested] will be asked very preliminary questions to help them understand what they would need beyond that," she said. "This is also another opportunity to get an understanding of what you have to do to become a homebuyer."

Those lacking livable housing conditions with good financial management can contact the BAHfH office for an application at 802-367-1000. To see the construction schedule or to get involved, visit www.benningtonareahabitat.com.

—Makayla-Courtney McGeeney can be reached at (802)-447-7567, ext. 118.


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