Habitat hopes for families: Sweat equity leads to affordable new home


Sweat equity leads to affordable new home

By Gary Huffenberger - ghuffenberger@wnewsj.com



In 2020, Clinton County Habitat for Humanity built a house on South Mulberry Street in Wilmington.

In 2020, Clinton County Habitat for Humanity built a house on South Mulberry Street in Wilmington.


News Journal file photo

Tom Matrka is president of the Clinton County Habitat for Humanity Board of Directors.


Gary Huffenberger | News Journal

WILMINGTON — Presently the Clinton County Habitat for Humanity has no partner families lined up for one of its affordable and energy-efficient houses for people who otherwise couldn’t obtain one.

Clinton County Habitat for Humanity Board of Directors President Tom Matrka said the 501(c)(3) non-profit organization normally builds two homes a year, and the times they haven’t is because it didn’t have partner families to match a new house with.

There was a four-year waiting list here at one point, but ironically even with a scarcity of affordable housing, many of the people who have expressed interest have extremely low incomes that unfortunately would not enable them to pay the monthly mortgage, according to Matrka.

Although the homes are not free to partner families, the mortgage is interest-free, making it a very reasonable mortgage so that the average payment is around $500 per month, Matrka said.

“The point being that most of these people, the mortgage is not any more than they were paying for their rent previously,” he said.

The formula used to determine the mortgage takes into account what the partner family’s monthly income is, so Habitat tries to make sure no one gets a mortgage that’s beyond what they can handle.

So if someone wants to see whether they can partner with Habitat in a new house project, the family needs to fall within the income range guidelines —neither too much, nor too low.

The guidelines are based on family size and can vary over time, but in 2020 the minimum income for a three-member family was $29,300. See the website clintonhabitat.org for a further breakdown of income minimums and maximums relative to family size.

You also need to be willing to work with Habitat: 500 hours of what’s called “sweat equity” work hours for a couple, 300 hours for an individual. This can include working on your own or someone else’s Habitat house, volunteering at the local Habitat for Humanity ReStore, providing lunches to Habitat work crews, and attending meetings designed to be instructional on how to own and care for a home, including budgeting.

Right now Clinton County Habitat for Humanity has four building lots in Wilmington, and no lots out in the county. Habitat recently built houses in other parts of Clinton County three years in a row, Matrka believes.

In the past Habitat has had to purchase most of the properties, though some sites were donated to it. The organization hopes to work with the local land bank, and hopes to benefit from the land bank’s properties, he said.

The Clinton County Habitat for Humanity was formed in 1994, and is an affiliate of Habitat International. Since then, they have built 42 homes in Clinton County.

People interested in a possible Habitat house project can start the process by calling Habitat board member Elizabeth Biggane for more information at 937-725-8071, or Tom Matrka at 937-725-4934.

The local Habitat hopes to build two houses this year.

Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.

In 2020, Clinton County Habitat for Humanity built a house on South Mulberry Street in Wilmington.
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2021/01/web1_workers.jpgIn 2020, Clinton County Habitat for Humanity built a house on South Mulberry Street in Wilmington. News Journal file photo

Tom Matrka is president of the Clinton County Habitat for Humanity Board of Directors.
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2021/01/web1_doc.jpgTom Matrka is president of the Clinton County Habitat for Humanity Board of Directors. Gary Huffenberger | News Journal
Sweat equity leads to affordable new home

By Gary Huffenberger

ghuffenberger@wnewsj.com