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Director: Habitat part of solution

September 24, 2006|by TARA REILLY

Habitat for Humanity of Washington County has built 22 homes since the local chapter was started in 1994.

Two more are to be completed by the end of this year - at 46 Berner Ave. and 517 Reynolds Ave., both in the City of Hagerstown.

With steep rent and home prices afflicting the county, Habitat Executive Director Sherry Brown Cooper said the organization is needed more than ever.

"We do have an affordable housing issue in this county and in the city," Brown Cooper said. "I think it deserves everyone's attention."

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Many people who work in Washington County can't afford to live here, she said.

Families must meet certain income requirements to be eligible for a home. For example, a family of four must make at least $17,750 but no more than $35,280, she said.

She said residents with a variety of jobs, particularly in the health-care and public-safety fields, often struggle with housing costs.

That can affect children, who might have to change schools as their parents move around in search of apartments or houses they can afford.

Habitat is part of the solution in making home ownership a reality for those in need, according to Brown Cooper.

"I think the community needs to recognize what Habitat is doing for the community and support it," she said.

She credited the organization's volunteers for stepping forward to help. About 500 to 750 people help out each year.

No experience is necessary to volunteer. Skilled people are on the site to teach volunteers, she said. Volunteers can help with construction or nonconstruction duties, she said.

Because construction volunteers must fill out applications, sign liability forms and receive other information, they can't just show up at a site and go to work, she said.

Those interested in helping with construction may call 301-791-9009 or send an e-mail to habitatdonna@att.net. For those who want to volunteer for nonconstruction work, the address is hfhwc@att.net.

Habitat for Humanity is at 20 S. Prospect St. in Hagerstown.

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