Habitat for Humanity seeks partner family

BUCKHANNON — Upshur County’s Buckhannon River Habitat for Humanity group is searching for a partner family to fill their newest home that is currently under construction.  Habitat for Humanity has been present in Upshur County since 1992, helping provide affordable housing for over a dozen local families. 

This newly selected property is located at 152 Harrison Ave. at Hampton and will include three bedrooms, two baths, and an outside building—totaling approximately 1,100 square feet. Buckhannon River Habitat for Humanity President Laura Rusmisell explained that each house is expected to take approximately two years to build; however, COVID has reportedly slowed the process down this year. While searching for a potential location, Rusmisell said she stumbled upon on the piece of land at Hampton and contacted the owner.  The property alone cost $12,000 and she explained, “It is hard to find an affordable piece of land,” and facilitating affordable housing is a main objective of Habitat for Humanity. 

Partner families may be eligible if they have lived or worked in Upshur County for at least a year, exhibit a need for the home, exhibit a willingness to help further the Habitat for Humanity ministry, and have the ability to pay for the home. 

Needs of an appropriate partner family consist of the following: current home is overcrowded (school age children of different sexes sharing bedrooms or using common areas for bedrooms), family is living with a relative or friend, current home is unsafe (physical deterioration beyond reasonable repair; in a dangerous neighborhood), or current home is a financial burden (monthly costs are too much).

The potential new owner must have the ability to pay for the home through a reliable source of income.  The house will likely be mortgaged for 30 years, which the potential owner will be required to pay.  Fortunately, these payments are interest free and will have a low monthly payment of $300-$400 per month. The potential owners must also go through a process of being approved by a mortgage originator, in which their debt, credit score, and income will be evaluated. Through this process, the ability to manage financial resources must be demonstrated.

The total family income from all courses must fall within specific guidelines, depending on the family size, where a minimum and maximum income requirement is applied.  The applicant must also have decent credit and earn up to 80 percent of Upshur County’s median income, depending on family size. For example, a family of four can have a maximum income of $44,250. Potential owners must also agree to avoid new consumer debt after selection until closing of the house, agree to move where affiliate owns land on which to build, and agree to maintain the home and property after purchase.

In effort to further this ministry, partner families must also perform 500 sweat equity hours on the home. Sweat equity entails the family contributing to the completion of the home.  For example, hauling brush off the property, mowing, painting, hanging or framing cabinets, assisting with electrical functions, fundraising towards Habitat for Humanity, etc.—essentially anything that contributes to the completion of the home. Rusmisell explained that pre-COVID, Habitat for Humanity would set up at Festival Fridays to fundraise and the family could participate in that to achieve equity hours.  Unfortunately, this has not been an option during the pandemic.

For more specific income guidelines, contact Laura Rusmisell at (304) 613-8777.  To receive an application, contact Rusmisell via call or text. After sending several applications out, only four have reportedly been returned.  Out of those four, Rusmisell explained only two potential partner families would likely fall under the guidelines and qualifications. She is hopeful to receive more correspondence from potential partner families in the next several weeks. There is no deadline to turn in applications; however, they are being processed as they are received and it is first come, first served, so apply today if you are interested in becoming a Habitat for Humanity partner family.

The house is expected to be completed around late spring into summer of the year 2021. Buckhannon River Habitat for Humanity is hopeful to put a deserving family in the position to own and maintain a well-built, energy efficient, affordable home. “These families couldn’t buy a house otherwise, without this program,” Rusmisell expressed. The houses are built to last, including a 40-year metal roof. She explained that this house would cost approximately $125,000 if it were on the market, and future owner will only have to pay the total cost of the property which will be approximately $70,000-$80,000, interest free. The mortgage collected from the Buckhannon River Habitat for Humanity Homes, builds up treasury to use for the completion of future Habitat for Humanity homes in Upshur County. 

Although Habitat for Humanity maintains a Christian background and is a Christian ministry, it is ultimately a project of love, explained Rusmisell. People from all backgrounds have the opportunity to apply and get selected as the next partner family. If you or someone you know may follow under these guidelines, contact Laura Rusmisell to be considered as the next partner family for Buckhannon River Habitat for Humanity.

Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit, ecumenical Christian Housing ministry. They build simple decent homes with low income families with the help of volunteer labor. Buckhannon River Habitat for Humanity is in desperate need of board members, specifically a treasurer and secretary. Each aspect of this program is volunteer based, including the labor involved in constructing the house. If you are interested in assisting with the completion of the home or serving on the Buckhannon River Habitat for Humanity board, contact Laura Rusmisell for more information.



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