INWOOD, W.Va. — Kira Ruby, a single mother of three, represents one of more than 4,000 working families in the Eastern Panhandle living in substandard housing.
In less than a month Ruby, 35, and her children will be one less family living in such circumstances.
Working through Habitat for Humanity of the Eastern Panhandle, about 100 volunteers from the Berkeley County United Methodist Cluster, made up of 23 local Methodist churches, built a one-story, four-bedroom home for the Ruby family on Lair Way in Inwood.
The home will be dedicated March 31, seven months since ground for it was broken, said Judith Boykin, president of the Panhandle’s Habitat chapter.
Moving into their new home will be a “scary” experience for Kira and her three children, Victoria, 16, Daniel, 12, and Lee Anna, 8, Ruby said.
“It’s our first home. It’s a thrill, but it is scary having the responsibility of a home owner. It feels like a dream, but it’s overwhelming.”
Three more homes will be built by Habitat for Humanity of the Eastern Panhandle volunteers in Berkeley County 2012.
The local affiliate of Habitat For Humanity of West Virginia was organized in 1992. From 1995 through 2011, HFHEP volunteers built 31 homes, including 29 in Berkeley County and one each in Morgan and Jefferson counties, Boykin said.
Families who apply for a Habitat home must meet certain income requirements, have a dependable source of income sufficient to make monthly mortgage payments and show that their existing living conditions are substandard, according to agency rules.
Substandard conditions, according to Habitat rules, include homes that are structurally unsound, have critical mechanical problems, are severely overcrowded or are in high-crime areas.
“Most families in those conditions can’t afford to move,” Boykin said.
Elizabeth Granzow, development director of Habitat for Humanity of the Eastern Panhandle, said typical Habitat homeowners are single- and two-parent families, people on disability and older individuals. “About 75 percent are single mothers,” Granzow said.
Habitat holds an interest-free, 20-year mortgage on every home it builds. The owner pays all property taxes and utilities. Budgeting and home maintenance assistance is available.
Habitat families can sell their homes after eight years and keep any profit from the sale, Boykin said.
The cost of building an average Habitat home in the Eastern Panhandle, built with volunteer labor and mostly donated materials, runs about $60,000. The home can be appraised as high as $90,000 at closing, Boykin said.
Habitat for Humanity of the Eastern Panhandle, with headquarters at 630 W. Race St., Martinsburg, has three part-time employees — Granzow; Brian Truman, the operations director; and Michael Plant, manager of the ReStore, a large warehouse at 650 W. Race St. ReStore is stocked with donated used and new building materials, supplies, furnishings and appliances for Habitat building projects or to be sold as fundraisers.
This week is spring break for Shepherd University students. Thirty-seven of them are participating in the campus’s Alternative Spring Break program and are going to North Carolina to build Habitat homes at two different sites. The students raised about $11,000 to finance this year’s trip.
In its 25 years of existence, Habitat For Humanity of West Virginia has built nearly 700 homes around the state. It hopes to build 25 homes this year to celebrate its silver anniversary.