"It's a humbling thing. It's wonderful ... because it's for my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren," said Ruth Chronister, Johnson's mother.
Through the Chambersburg Housing Rehabilitation Program, Johnson, her daughter Tanya and grandsons McKenzie, Colby and Isaac have a new roof over their heads - and rafters, and a new ceiling, bathroom and kitchen. There's also a furnace, replacing the kerosene heaters they once used to keep warm in the winter.
The program is funded by a $350,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, said Kathleen Newcomer, a community development specialist for the borough. Franklin County provided another $50,000 in matching funds, McLaughlin said.
Qualified borough homeowners can receive a grant of up to $10,000 for repairs, Newcomer said. For costs above that figure up to $25,000, owners are eligible for a 3 percent interest loan.
In the case of Johnson's home, the cost was $80,000, which required permission from the state, Council Vice President Robert Wareham said. The cost included removal of lead paint in the house, built in the late 19th century.
When paid back, money from the loans is returned to the program, Newcomer said. There is a lien against the properties for the grant money, which is forgiven if the owners live there for 10 years.
Since the program began in 1992, 128 homes have been renovated, Newcomer said.
The benefits of the program are many, including revitalizing the borough's housing stock, 80 percent of which was built more than 30 years ago, Newcomer said. Lead abatement in these older homes is another, but the biggest benefit is putting families in decent homes, she said.
"There's a big application you have to fill out and millions of papers to sign," said Johnson, who added that it was a slight inconvenience for the benefit her family received.
For more information about the program, borough homeowners may call Newcomer at 717-261-3208. Applications are available at Borough Hall, 100 S. Second St.