Home ownership can have its unexpected pitfalls, especially for low-income families who might be struggling with their monthly budget. A roof that starts leaking, porch stairs that buckle or heating system that conks out in the middle of cold snap can force some families to decide between having enough to eat or living in house that is still safe, according to Bryan Lyburn, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Carroll County.
In some cases, Lyburn said, a family unable to afford essential home repairs might even consider selling a home for what they can get for it, a result Habitat for Humanity is dedicated to preventing.
"Our mission is really about home ownership," he said, "Creating new homes that are affordable in the community and keeping folks [who are] in their homes stable in their homes."
In keeping with that mission, Habitat for Humanity of Carroll County is promoting its Home Repair Program, an ongoing project designed to provide struggling homeowners in Carroll with a low-cost option for repairing critical parts of their homes, according to Lyburn.
Habitat for Humanity is repromoting the program now in an effort to connect with families that might need help with repairs after the harsh winter and before any potentially heavy spring or summer weather, he said.
The types of problems the program is designed to address are emergent and critical to the safety of the home's occupants.
"This is not for cosmetic-type repairs. If there is a tear in the carpet, we are not going to take care of that," Lyburn said. "If the roof is leaking and could cause a potential mold problem, that is definitely something we will be able to address."
There are also income requirements that determine eligibility for the program. According to Lyburn, interested homeowners must earn less than 60 percent of the median household income in Carroll County — that median is estimated at $89,600 by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development — but must also have the ability to repay the cost of the repairs.
"What we do is use discounted or donated materials and we use all-volunteer labor if possible," he said. "The repairs are done at a very low cost, and we work with the family on an individual basis to determine a repayment plan that works for them."
The Home Repair Program has been active in Carroll County for the past two years, according to Lyburn, and more than six homes have received repair work since the program started.
Reach staff writer Jon Kelvey at 410-857-3317 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To apply for the program, homeowners should download an application at Habitat for Humanity of Carroll County's website at cchabitat.org, or they may call 410-751-7722 to have an application mailed to them.
Completed applications should be returned by mail and addressed to Habitat for Humanity of Carroll County, 255 Clifton Blvd., Suite 301, Westminster, MD 21157.