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Westminster receives $550,000 grant for housing project

Habitat for Humanity InternationalPersonal Income

Westminster and the Carroll County chapter of Habitat for Humanity have received a state grant of more than $550,000 which will allow the organization to build five more town homes at Union Crossing.

Union Crossing, located near the intersection of Union Street and Pennsylvania Avenue in Westminster, is a project by the city and the Episcopal Housing Corporation to provide housing for low-income city residents.

The groundbreaking for the project was in 2010.

Four town homes have already been built on the site and now with the $558,337 state grant, five more will be constructed to complete the project, according to Bryan Lyburn, Habitat for Humanity Executive Director.

Lyburn called the grant a "huge step forward" for the project.

"This is a big project and an exciting time for us," he said.

The grant was awarded to Westminster as part of a larger donation from the state of Maryland's Community Development Block Grant Program administered by the Department of Housing and Community Development.

In total, the city has received $1.3 million from the state for the Union Crossing project, according to Sandy Anderson, Westminster community programs specialist.

The grant will cover the majority of the costs for the five new town homes, but Habitat will finance an additional $85,000 to complete the project, Lyburn said.

The plan is to break ground early in the spring of 2014 and have the homes completed by the end of the year, according to Lyburn.

Westminster Mayor Kevin Utz said Union Crossing is a project that the city has wanted to finish for awhile and the grant is a reflection of the state recognizing the "outstanding projects" completed with state funding.

"There's a lot of good reasons why we want to see this project completed and we're happy to work with Habitat for Humanity," Utz said.

Habitat is in the process of finalizing the application for the homes, but to be considered families must meet three criteria.

They must make less than 60 percent of the area median income and have a housing need, they must be willing to partner with the agency to help in the construction of their home, and they must show an ability to repay the cost of their home through a 30 year mortgage with a zero percent interest rate from Habitat, according to Lyburn.

The applications will be available within the next month.

"This is a watershed moment for our chapter, and we are just so excited about the grant from the state of Maryland and the City of Westminster," Lyburn said in a statement released Wednesday. "We cannot begin to express how important such a grant is to our ability to achieve our mission of providing safe, decent housing to our community in Carroll County."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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