Local Habitat for Humanity adds Critical Repair Program

Manistee County's Habitat for Humanity has started a Critical Repairs program for homeowners who can’t afford repairs needed on their homes. (Courtesy photo)

Manistee County’s Habitat for Humanity has started a Critical Repairs program for homeowners who can’t afford repairs needed on their homes. (Courtesy photo)

MANSITEE COUNTY — For years, Habitat for Humanity has lent a helping hand in housing those in need across Manistee County.

Now, the local chapter is extending that hand further.

Breanna Jados, Manistee County Habitat for Humanity executive director, has announced the addition of the Critical Repair Program to the area, which is designed to alleviate critical health, life, and safety issues on homes of low-income families by preforming extensive interior or exterior work.

“As a board, we’re trying to work toward helping more people,” Jados said. “We have a very small community and a small pool of volunteers, so we’ve only built a new house every one to two years.

“So, this is going to give us the opportunity to help many more people and many more families.”

The Critical Repair Program has existed in larger areas for years, but is now available to Manistee County applicants who meet the criteria.

“Critical repair helps low income homeowners, who might struggle to maintain their homes due to limitations such as income, age, disability or other circumstances,” Jados said. “The end result is their home is safe and maintained and they can continue to occupy it.

“Hopefully it helps revitalize neighborhoods too.”

Those interested in benefiting from the program will find application materials at habitatmanistee.org under the “application information” tab and “Critical Repair App” option.

Applicants should print and fill out the application, attach required documentation and send to Manistee County HFH, P.O. Box 495, Manistee, MI 49660.

Jados said those without internet access can call Habitat for Humanity at (231) 723-7458 or email habitat.manistee.county@gmail.com to ask for an application to be mailed to them.

To be considered for a critical home repair, one must meet the same criteria required of applicants to Habitat for Humanity’s new home program, which are as follows:

• The need for adequate shelter;

• The ability to pay a no-profit mortgage or loan; and

• A willingness to partner with Manistee County Habitat.

Jados said the sweat equity required of participants during their project can be executed in a number of ways.

“We don’t expect them to do 100 hours of work with us or anything like that,” she said. “They can do things like make food for the volunteers or check our answering machine messages and other administrative tasks.”

The program is already underway locally, with one project complete and another in the works.

“Our (first participant) was a 90-year-old veteran whose house was built into a hill,” Jados explained, “Rain water was coming off the front of his house, into his front yard and flooding his basement.

“We put gutters on the whole front of the house to divert the water down the hill,” she explained, “and we added heat strips to melt the snow when that comes.”

Jados is aiming to complete at least five projects in 2017, the first full year of the new program.

“In a perfect world, we’d like to do 20,” she said, “but to shoot for five next year would be forward motion.”

Jados reminds the public that Habitat for Humanity financially assists those in need rather than picking up whole tabs on various projects.

“A lot of people are under the assumption that Habitat builds houses and then gives them away,” she said. “That’s not exactly what happens. People end up having a mortgage, but at zero percent. It keeps their payment very low and very manageable.

“That’s the same for this repair program,” Jados added. “They’re actually going to pay back part of the cost for the repair. We pay the full cost and they pay us back on a sliding scale, according to their income.

“It’s a hand-up and not a complete hand out.”

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Posted by Dylan Savela

Dylan is the county reporter for the News Advocate, he also is in charge of the Small Town Life, religion and senior pages. He can be reached at (231) 398-3111 or dsavela@pioneergroup.com.

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