Habi­tat for Hu­man­ity be­gins new Charlestown home

Owner: ‘It’s go­ing to be our fu­ture’

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - By BRI­ANNA SHEA

bshea@ce­cil­whig.com

— To many, the lot on Charlestown Place prob­a­bly looks a like a work very much still in progress, but to Brandi For­man, it al­ready feels like a home.

“I’m bit­ing at the bit,” the Ris­ing Sun woman said Thurs­day. “I’m super ex­cited.”

This week, For­man and Habi­tat for Hu­man-

CHARLESTOWN

ity Susque­hanna vol­un­teers worked on con­struct­ing and in­stalling roof trusses, or the skele­ton of the roof, on her fu­ture home. Since mid-April, the foun­da­tion has been laid and the three­bed­room home’s fram­ing has been put up.

For­man and her 3-year-old son, Eli­jah, have been shar­ing a room in her par­ents’ home the past few years, and she was look­ing for a way to branch out on her own.

The process be­gan when For­man ap­plied for a Habi­tat home two years ago. She said her for­mer su­per­vi­sor at Hol­ly­wood Casino Per- ryville sug­gested she ap­ply to the non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion that con­structs sim­ple and af­ford­able hous­ing for those who don’t qual­ify for con­ven­tional home fi­nanc­ing. Af­ter sub­mit­ting an ap­pli­ca­tion, For­man was no­ti­fied via email that she was cho­sen in Septem­ber 2014.

Bri­anne Young, vol­un­teer and com­mu­nity en­gage­ment co­or­di­na­tor with the Susque­hanna char­ter, ex­plained that a co­or­di­na­tor along with the fam­ily se­lec­tion com­mit­tee chooses the ap­pli­cants.

She said they base the de­ci­sion on re­quire­ments such as the ap­pli­ca­tion, in­come, credit score, abil­ity to pay a mort­gage and other fi­nan­cial re­quire­ments.

The house is not free, be­cause the home­owner buys the home from Habi­tat for Habi­tat, and pays the or­ga­ni­za­tion back through monthly in­stall­ments, but is a way for those with some fi­nan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties to get into their own home.

One of the re­quire­ments of the pro­ject is 250 hours of sweat eq­uity, which refers to the num­ber of la­bor hours the home­owner ded­i­cates to build­ing his or her home. That sweat eq­uity in­cludes 100 hours of ac­tual home­owner con­struc­tion, 50 hours of fundrais­ing and 100 re­fer­ral hours for re­cruit­ing friends and fam­ily to help with the pro­ject. So far, For­man said she has been to the site at least once a week to help per­son­ally build the home.

Young said this pro­ject is dif­fer­ent from other home projects, be­cause it is be­ing built dur­ing Na­tional Women Build Week, which oc­curs from April 30 to May 8. She said the week was cre­ated by Habi­tat for Hu­man­ity In­ter­na­tional’s Women Build pro­gram to en­cour­age women to learn con­struc­tion skills and to par­tic­i­pate in lo­cal Habi­tat builds.

Once the pro­ject is com­plete, Lowe’s will give the or­ga­ni­za­tion a $5,000 grant. Fundrais­ers are sched­uled from 4 to 8 p.m. May 26 and June 23 at Rita’s Wa­ter Ice on Route 40 in North East to help fund the con­struc­tion costs.

Young said vol­un­teers from Tow­son University, Lowe’s in North East and other busi­nesses and schools have helped dur­ing past con­struc­tion days. She said as many as 20 vol­un­teers have come each day of the build­ing sched­ule, which is sched­uled Wed­nes­day to Satur­day.

“It’s great see­ing ev­ery­one come,” For­man said of the vol­un­teers who have helped in the build­ing process.

Mary Jo Fitz, a vol­un­teer with the or­ga­ni­za­tion, came out on Thurs­day to help with the pro­ject. She said she has been a men­tor to For­man for two years, an­swer­ing any ques­tions she may have about the home or to give ad­vice. Fitz said she feels “great” about the pro­ject be­cause it gives the fam­ily sta­bil­ity and a fu­ture.

Ju­lia Ro­den­baugh, a vol­un­teer from Lowe’s, said she heard about the pro­ject through co-work­ers who have vol­un­teered their time to the pro­ject. With a limited knowl­edge of home con­struc­tion, she said she was ex­cited to learn more while help­ing out a good cause.

“I love do­ing vol­un­teer work, es­pe­cially with her (For­man) be­ing here, it makes it more per­sonal,” Ro­den­baugh said.

She said she met For­man ear­lier on Thurs­day and talked to her for a bit.

Ro­den­baugh said she could tell For­man is “re­ally pas­sion­ate” about the pro­ject be­cause she is ac­tively work­ing and is ex­cited about the help from the oth­ers. She said she “can’t imag­ine the ex­cite­ment” For­man must feel about the pro­ject.

Young said For­man and her son will move in no later than Septem­ber when the home is sched­uled to be fin- ished.

For­man said she is look­ing for­ward to the fact that their new home will al­low her and Eli­jah to each have their own space, while leav­ing plenty to cre­ate a play­room. The home will give them sta­bil­ity, and one day she hopes to leave it for her son.

“It’s some­where that’s go­ing to be ours,” For­man said. “It’s go­ing to be our fu­ture.”

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY BRI­ANNA SHEA

(L-R) Vol­un­teer Mary Jo Fitz and fu­ture home­owner Brandi For­man stand inside the fu­ture home in Charlestown.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF AMER­I­CAN FLAG FOUN­DA­TION

Leeds Ele­men­tary stu­dents formed a liv­ing Amer­i­can flag out­side the school on Thurs­day morn­ing.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY BRI­ANNA SHEA

Brandi For­man and a Habi­tat for Hu­man­ity Susque­hanna vol­un­teer work on her fu­ture home.

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