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Story Archives: $1.2 million grant to help Habitat tackle largest projects ever in Ouachita
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|$1.2 million grant to help Habitat tackle largest projects ever in Ouachita|
Habitat for Humanity has received more than $1 million in grant funding to help pay for the construction of three projects in Ouachita Parish next year.
The board of Louisiana Housing Finance Agency recently approved $1.2 million in Housing Trust Funds for Habitat for Humanity. The funding will allow the Christian housing organization to build more homes in one year than it has built since its inception in Ouachita Parish.
Homes built by Habitat for Humanity provide affordable housing for Ouachita Parish residents living at or below 50 percent of the regional medium income.
Executive director Larry Head said safe and affordable housing for local families is critical for this region since the poverty rate is much higher here and few homeownership opportunities exist for low income families.
Ellen Hill, president of Habitat for Humanity's board of directors, said the funding would allow the organization to better address the issue of poverty in the area.
"The idea is to give homeowners the opportunity to build their own future," Hill said. "We invest in a family and that family in turn invests in themselves."
"This is a great investment for our tax dollars, and the goal is to build on from here," she said.
The three construction projects the $1.2 million will fund include 12 new homes, which will be built near Breard Street in Monroe; three houses on Herman Street in West Monroe; and three houses along Coleman/Ludwig Street in West Monroe.
Development director Wendy Miletello said the application process for the grant funding involved many members of the community. including mayors Jamie Mayo and Dave Norris, who both provided letters of support.
Several local architecture firms, businesses, banks and volunteers provided free services and resources during the grant application process, Miletello said.
Habitat for Humanity's mission is to eliminate substandard housing.
"It's not a give-away program," said Head. "A lot of people think we give our houses away."
"Actually, we sell the houses at cost to our partner families and then we provide a no-interest, 20-year mortgage," Head explained. "The whole process is aimed at keeping the cost down. We use those mortgage payments to fund more projects."
He said studies show home ownership helps improve outcome for children as well as physical, mental and emotional health for families. It also increases social involvement, political participation, environmental awareness and family stability, along with reduced crime.
A typical family will see a $200 reduction in their monthly housing expense, plus about a $100 reduction in their monthly utility expense in securing a home through Habitat for Humanity.
"In all, it's like they get a raise," Head said.
In most cases, the organization will take property that is not being utilized and put that property back on the tax rolls so cities benefit with increased tax collection, according to Head. The new homes also help revitalize neighborhoods.
While the organization has received financial support to build these new homes, it still will need volunteers to build the houses.
For more information about volunteering or to apply for homeownership, call Habitat for Humanity at 323-8003.