SILVER SPRING – Habitat for Humanity Metro Maryland (HFHMM) announced on Aug. 5 it had completed the 500th project in its 37-year history.
The project, located in Kensington, was completed on April 30, said HFHMM Director of Development Jeff Dee. The home, which was built in the 1950s, was the first to utilize the organization’s CAPABLE program – its “holistic approach to the idea of aging in place,” according to a company blog.
“We go into an elderly person’s home, typically elderly but someone who owns their own home, they want to stay in their own home as long as possible, but they don’t necessarily have the financial wherewithal to do that,” Dee said.
As part of the process, Dee said HFHMM will conduct a home visit and audit to determine what course of action needs to be taken. For this project, Dee said his organization performed about $10,000 in weatherization and repair work, such as insulating the attic, replacing doorknobs, installing carpet treads on the stairs and installing grab bars in the bathroom.
“We are ecstatic to celebrate this important milestone in our history as a testament to the wonderful support we receive from the community to build strength, stability and self-reliance through housing,” John Paukstis, the company’s president and CEO said.
HFHMM, established in 1982, is an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International and serves Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties. The organization has provided more than 500 decent and affordable housing solutions and served over 1,000 individuals, according to the press release.
The organization is working on two new construction projects, universal design homes in Fairmount Heights and Capitol Heights, Dee said.
The universal design homes are designed to be as energy efficient as possible and allow for the independence of its residents. The homes, which are expected to sell for about $275,000, should be completed around Thanksgiving and already have buyers lined up, Dee said.
“One myth about Habitat is that we give away our homes,” Dee said. “Right now, while they’re working full time jobs, they’re all volunteering, we call it ‘sweat equity,’ where the families are volunteering on the build side, and taking homeowner education classes.”
To apply to purchase a home, Dee said a buyer must meet three basic requirements: the buyer must have a legitimate housing need, ability to pay and willingness to partner.
The organization serves as the bank in the transaction and the buyer is subject to the same kind of underwriting they would receive during a standard home buying process. The program has only had one default in 37 years, he said.
“We have a pretty good track record of keeping people in their homes,” he said.
Last week, Dee said the Prince George’s County Council awarded a $50,000 non-departmental grant to HFHMM for the fourth consecutive fiscal year. Dee had appeared in front of the council during a May 7 public hearing to ask for the funding for FY2020.
“We build strength, stability and self-reliance through housing because we believe everyone deserves a place to call home,” Dee said during the hearing.
Dee said during the meeting that they were hoping to use the grant, along with $100,000 grants from the Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation and Wells Fargo Housing Foundation, to help further its work in the county.
“I’m so grateful for the good work Habitat for Humanity Metro Maryland does in District 3 and across (Prince George’s County),” Councilmember Dannielle Glaros said in a statement on her Facebook page.
With the grant, Dee said HFHMM can fund about five repair and weatherization projects in the county like the one in Kensington.
“It is important to remember that over 1,000 individuals have been positively impacted because of the work of Habitat for Humanity Metro Maryland and we look forward to transforming lives for many years to come,” Paukstis added.