OTTAWA — Putnam County Habitat for Humanity is beginning a new critical home repair project that will help low- to moderate-income families complete important home repairs.
Anyone who meets the income requirements for the program, is a resident of Putnam County, lives in the home that needs repaired, and meets a few other requirements such as credit and background checks, is eligible to apply for the program.
The repairs Habitat for Humanity will do will be limited to things that threaten the livelihood of the family living in the home such as electrical and plumbing system repair, roof repair and replacement, window and door replacement, and things along those lines.
“If someone just wants a paint job, we’re not doing that because it isn’t critical,” said Critical Home Repair Coordinator Chas Myers.
Chosen applicants will be charged, depending on income, for the materials used making repairs but not for labor, because that will be done by volunteers, Myers said. The total monthly payment will not be greater than 43 percent of the total gross income, he said. Habitat for Humanity’s policy with their loans for housing and repairs is no interest, no profit.
Representatives from Putnam County Habitat for Humanity met with people from other local organizations who do home repair to see what services those groups did and didn’t do.
“We put together a spreadsheet about the different agencies out there and what services they provide,” Myers said. “We’re not just duplicating services. We’re trying to fill in the gaps.”
Those who receive the Critical Home Repair service will need to do some work on the project, which Habitat refers to as “sweat equity.” If someone receiving the service is fit enough to help with the labor they will have to do so, Myers said. If not, then arrangements can be made for them to do some form of community service. The example he used was, if Habitat was repairing an elderly person’s home and they let the volunteers use their bathroom or agreed to volunteer at a local school to listen as first-graders read stories to them, it would count as their “sweat equity.”
“The Habitat for Humanity saying is, ‘It’s a hand up, not a handout,’” Myers said.
The Critical Home Repair Project is new in Putnam County, though it has been going on for some time nationally. Habitat is partnering with Putnam County United Way to finance projects this year, Myers said. The group is still trying to get an idea of how much money the projects will cost.
Reach Bryan Reynolds 567-242-0362.