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For new owners, there's no place like home

September 30, 1999

Affordable housingBy DON AINES / Staff Writer, Chambersburg

photo: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer




WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Near the end of "The Wizard of Oz," Dorothy clicked the heels of her ruby slippers, said, "There's no place like home," and awakened in Kansas to find it was all a dream.

It wasn't that easy for Donya Snively and Cathy Mellott, but they achieved their piece of the American dream through the Mid-Atlantic Coalition for Housing Opportunities Inc., or MACHO.

"Owning a home is the true quintessential American Dream," Franklin County Commissioner G. Warren Elliott said Thursday at the ribbon cutting for a new section of townhomes built by MACHO in the Sheffield Manor development. He alluded to the desire for a place to call home in Norman Rockwell paintings and films such as "Oz" and "It's a Wonderful Life."

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"This is an opportunity I've waited for a long time," said Mellott, a mother of five who moved into her new townhome in August. She and her three youngest children moved to the Washington Township development from an apartment in Waynesboro.

Mellott, who works in a personal care home, said it was her daughter, Shelcey, who pointed out a newspaper advertisement last spring that helped make her a homeowner.

"Being out on my own and being in my own place" is the best thing about owning a home, said Snively, a mother of two who has been living with her father in Rouzerville, Pa. She just settled on her house and will move in "as soon as I get a day off" from her job at First Data Merchants Services in Hagerstown.

"Being a builder and developer for 35 years, I came across a lot of people who couldn't afford homes," said Richard Baumgardner of Waynesboro. The developer of Sheffield Manor, he was also one of the founders of MACHO, a nonprofit community housing development corporation.

In 1996, MACHO partnered with Franklin County and has since received $1 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Home Investment Partnership Program to help build the first 28 units at the Sheffield Manor project for low- and moderate-income housing.

The County Commissioners Thursday approved MACHO's application for another $530,430 to complete the third phase. Additional financial assistance is provided through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Housing Program and the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, according to Phil Wolgemuth of the Franklin County Planning Office.

Baumgardner said there are no down payments or closing costs for qualified buyers of the two- and three-bedroom townhomes. The units cost $86,300, but owners get $16,000 toward the purchase. The money doesn't have to be repaid if the owner lives in the house for 10 years.

Sixteen units are completed and sold and four are under construction. Baumgardner said the second phase should be completed by the end of this year and the project should be done by the end of next year.

Wolgemuth said the project fits in with the county's comprehensive plan by providing affordable homes in areas zoned for higher density development with existing utilities.

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