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Habitat seeks money for Boonsboro duplex

May 15, 2004|By GREGORY T. SIMMONS

Bankers and community activists stood in ankle-high grass Friday morning underneath a tent supplied with breakfast food and coffee.

The gathering on the plot of land off St. Paul Street in Boonsboro was a pitch to raise $45,000, which would be used to help pay for construction to turn the grassy plot into two new homes in the next few months.

The project is Habitat for Humanity's first outside the greater Hagerstown area, and represents a need for more affordable housing in the county, people at the event said.

Two families with children already are lined up to buy the homes at a reduced cost and move in when the duplex is finished.

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Sherry Brown Cooper, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Washington County, said the overall Boonsboro project is expected to cost $202,000. Two local groups are sponsoring the construction off St. Paul Street. Banking on Our Communities, a group funded by the banking industry, and the Interfaith Coalition of Washington County each must raise money to offset Habitat's cost.

The purpose of Friday's event was to raise money for one of the homes. Hagerstown Trust pledged $25,000, which will go toward the goal of raising $70,000 for the home Banking on Our Communities is sponsoring.

Washington County Commissioner Doris J. Nipps, who works for Habitat and was at Friday's event, said a growing population and growing housing costs are pushing the need for more affordable housing.

"Low-income families are having a difficult time purchasing" and even renting homes, Nipps said.

Cooper said there are people living in "atrocious" homes in the county that have leaky roofs that landlords won't fix, but they can't afford to move elsewhere.

The Habitat program makes the difference, she said.

"They no longer have to feel like the bottom of the pile," Cooper said.

Once construction is complete, the families move in and begin paying off subsidized loans, Cooper said. Each of the families will be given an $87,500 loan, which they must pay over 30 years. Cooper said the mortgage, along with homeowners insurance and property taxes, works out to between $400 and $500 per month.

Families must meet income requirements to be eligible for a Habitat home, Cooper said. Those requirements are based on federal limits, but they must make a minimum amount to be able to pay off the loan and cannot make more than a certain amount to qualify for assistance.

Cooper said Habitat has built 16 homes in Washington County. In addition to the Boonsboro duplex, two new homes are being built on Liberty Street in Hagers- town, Cooper said.

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