Habitat for Humanity: building season to begin with three-year home project

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Stepha Poulin and Stepha Poulin

Building season is about to begin for the Wood County Habitat for Humanity. The first of three new homes in Bowling Green, Ohio will be constructed through the philanthropic deeds of the organization’s University chapter and community volunteers.

Mark Ohashi, executive director of Wood County Habitat for Humanity, says construction has not begun. However, funds are already being collected for the project and the home should be built by August 2018.

The three-year project relies on the University in multiple ways. Faculty, staff and students will account for many of the 1,500+ volunteers. More than 25 courses and on-campus organizations are involved in the project, including University architectural majors who will design homes.

This international, non-profit organization has a reach extending to the campus community through an on-campus, student-led organization. Habitat for Humanity is always eager to accept volunteers. The University is an ample resource of helping hands, as over 6,000 students live on campus.

Jordan Arrington, president of the on-campus chapter for Habitat for Humanity, says students help carry out the goals of Habitat for Humanity in several ways. Members help during building season and set up various fundraisers at local businesses during the off-season.

Building a home for an average-sized family is no small task. While the Habitat for Humanity participates in community outreach in various ways, like participating in the MLK Jr. Day of Service, the organization builds one home a year.

According to Project Coordinator Tom Ehmke, safe and cost-effective construction takes time. This is especially true when considering additional costs new homeowners must take on themselves. Homeowners are responsible for mortgage payments, bills and other costs associated with home ownership.

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Ehmke stresses homes built by Habitat for Humanity are not handouts in any way.

“We are a zero-percent mortgage bank. Some people think this is a government program or a welfare program or some kind of freebie, and it isn’t,” Ehmke said.

According to Wells Fargo, the average mortgage interest rate is about 4 percent. With an average mortgage payment that costs over $1,000 a month, adding in interest can prevent families from having the chance to own a home.

When taking out a mortgage for a home, prospective homeowners need to be prepared to pay interest on future mortgage payments. Struggling families can avoid this with assistance from Habitat for Humanity. Potential recipients go through applications to ensure those truly need it receive help.

Consideration for a home through Habitat for Humanity includes: qualifying for financial assistance according to guidelines of the Department of Housing and Urban Development and a letter from a bank which states the family is ineligible for a traditional mortgage loan.

The Habitat for Humanity is self-described as an “ecumenical” organization, meaning they are a Christian organization not affiliated with a specific denomination while carrying out their mission.

All students can join the University chapter of Habitat for Humanity through OrgSync. Community members and students alike can volunteer by visiting the Wood County Habitat for Humanity website.