Homes looking for people at Habitat

| 29 Sep 2011 | 09:32

    MILFORD - Jim Teehan gets a good feeling out of building things, always has. He was building houses even when he was a fire department EMT back in the south Bronx. And he remembers how good it felt one day when he was “toned out,” called to stand-by for a presidential visit to some Habitat for Humanity homes — homes he’d helped build there. Jim lives in Pike County now and is still a fireman. Now he’s president of the Milford Fire Department — and he’s still building houses. Teehan is the chairman of the family selection committee for Habitat for Humanity of Pike County. He says the committee’s job is to find low income families in need of housing, who are willing to help others build them a home. Helping build it, means just that. “Sweat equity,” is required by Habitat. New owners must provide 400 hours of work on the project, although friends and family can help out. Habitat is building for people, not resellers, so applicants have to be financially able to keep up the zero-interest mortgage payments, Teehan said. For a family to be low-income in Pike County, they don’t earn more than $36,245, and to be able to support the mortgage payments, they must earn at least $23,065. Habitat will do a thorough financial background check to qualify its applicants. Once applicants are selected, the volunteers go to work. “We do all our own fundraising. You hear about projects that Jimmy Carter works with; they’re all sponsored by corporations. We don’t have corporate sponsors,” he said. There are national sponsors, like Whirlpool, which donates kitchen appliances for every Habitat home, but most of the materials come from local fundraising work. “Some materials are donated, but we have to buy some,” said Teehan. They’ve built 10 homes this way. This year, for the first time, Pike Habitat will have two homes underway at once. Land has been donated in both Sunrise Lakes and at Fawn Lake Forest. So, Habitat is also looking for help, Teehan said. “A bunch of guys, who are retired and love doing this” are core group, but there is not enough of them to build two at once, he said. If you would like to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, call 570-828-1623. If you believe your family might qualify for a home, you need to begin the application process with a short, “pre-application” form that Habitat distributes through local churches and the United Way. “The important thing is that anyone applying must get that first form to us by noon on Oct. 20, to be considered for this next round of selections,” Teehan said. Anyone who believes they qualify, needs better housing and is willing to work, should apply. “A lot of people think we give things away, but this is not a handout. It’s a hand up and you have to work for it,” Teehan concluded. For more information, call or e-mail