It is estimated that about 30 percent of Carroll County households pay more than 30 percent of their income toward housing, a figure Habitat for Humanity of Carroll County Executive Director Bryan Lyburn attributes to the United Way’s ALICE Report.
“That’s 30 percent of Carroll County families that can’t afford the housing they are living in,” he said. “We have the solution here in Habitat.”
That solution, at the moment, is an open application for a zero percent interest mortgage-financed house in Westminster, available to a selected person or family who meet the income requirements — a family of four must earn less than $54,660 a year — and are willing to put in a little sweat equity.
“We talk about our families as partner families and it really is a partnership,” Lyburn said. “They put in hours on the job site working alongside our volunteers, and through that they earn a zero percent interest mortgage for the life of their loan. Without any interest and without any profit on the project, it provides an opportunity for home ownership at a fraction of the market price.”
The home in question is a three-bedroom, 1.5-bath, split-foyer duplex at 164 S. Court St., Westminster. It’s a property that Habitat has purchased and which needs “a little TLC,” in Lyburn’s terms, and therefore the need for the sweat equity of the chosen applicant.
It is the seventh such home Habitat has made available in Carroll County in the past three and a half years, according to Lyburn.
The person or family selected from the pool of applicants as the homeowner will help renovate the property and must be able to pay the estimated $2,500 in closing costs on a 30-year, $130,000, zero interest mortgage. Their estimated monthly payments, including property taxes and homeowner’s insurance, will be around $650.
“I think the most important thing to stress is that these homes are not free,” Lyburn said. “This is an awesome opportunity to own a home at a very low cost because of that zero percent interest financing. But the owner has to have income, has to be able to afford that home. They have to want that home and earn that home through their hard work.”
As an additional income requirement, applicants must earn at least $23,400 annually.
“They can call us, and we will mail it to them or email it to them,” Lyburn said. “Whatever is convenient for them.”
However a person applies, that application must be received by Friday, May 4, to be considered.
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“This touches a lot of working families in Carroll County,” Lyburn said. “Many folks in our community are commuting down out of Pennsylvania because housing prices are out of reach in Carroll County. Our folks are getting up every day to leave Carroll County to work in Baltimore for higher salaries. Our hope is this will allow a family to live and work here in this community.”