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Housing Counseling

The Fairmont-Morgantown Housing Authority (FMHA) received $15,000 from the Trust Fund for its Housing Counseling Program. One of its goals was to hold its Home Buyers Education (HBE) class on a site outside its Fairmont office, and this was achieved at the Seneca Center in Morgantown where FMHA rents space. This class produced 7 new HBE graduates, bring- ingthetotalnumberofHBEgraduatesto81in2014. Therewerealso11 Post-Purchase Education Graduates during this time.

Social media efforts were also vamped up in 2014 to include weekly posts to
Facebook and Twitter, and an Instagram page was started. New outreach contacts have been made with PNC lending staff, Wetzel County Family Resource Network, WVU Lifelong Learners, One Stop Partnership, BAD Buildings Pro- gram, and CHAP. FMHA’s housing counseling programs involved 241 clients, and 74% of these were below 80% of the area median income. 

Single-Family Program

Meet the Deckers! They have been prequalified for a mortgage after

attending housing counseling at FMHA.

Jackie and Glen Decker received their mortgage pre-approval letter and signed a con- tract on the house they want to buy. In March 2014, the Deckers came to FMHA for housing counseling. While their employment was stable, they had some other chal- lenges to overcome before becoming mortgage ready. Through the counseling pro- cess, the Deckers were able to build credit and increase credit scores by 50 points. A new savings account was established where they watched their down payment and discretionary funds grow. They have designed a family budget that will allow them to

live comfortably and continue with tier savings account. being new homeowners in the spring of 2015.

The Deckers look forward to

FMHA’s Single-Family Program used $30,000 from
the Trust Fund to build a beautiful new house lo-
cated on Lot #5 at Augusta Pines subdivision in Fairmont. This 1,292 square foot ranch-style home contains three bedrooms and two full baths, and is located on a .25-acre lot with gorgeous pine trees inthebackyard. Thesuperiorwallfoundation, high-efficiency forced-air furnace, central air condi- tioning, low E argon gas-filled windows, and tank-
less hot water heater help with low utility costs and high energy efficiency. This home will be sold in
2015 to a family below 80% of the area median income 

Scattered Sites and Critical Home Repair Project

Almost Heaven Habitat for Humanity (AHHFH) received funding for a two-part project consisting of the construction of five single-family de- tached houses on four sites throughout its three-county service area. Trust Fund monies were also used for capacity building activities to assist in serving even more families more efficiently through its Critical Home Repair program.

Two houses will be constructed in the Summers Elms development in White Sulphur Springs, Greenbrier County. Two will be built on different sites in the greater Durbin area in Pocahontas County, and the fifth house will be constructed on a lot in the Potomac Heights Subdivision just outside of Franklin, Pendleton County, in a neighborhood that has seen AHHFH activity during the past 20 years. All five homes will be EPA Energy Star and EarthCraft VA certified homes.

By investing in staff who will travel throughout its service area and train local staff and community members to become better leaders and facilita- tors of positive change within their communities, AHHFH will streamline and increase the number of critical home repairs it is able to effectively perform each year. A special focus will be the elderly who typically are surviving on a fixed, limited income as well as disabled individuals who find themselves in similar circumstances. Veterans continue to be a segment of the population AHHFH serves.

Veterans Initiative

A few years ago Almost Heaven Habitat for Humanity (AHHFH) started its Veterans Initiative, a program that provides housing solutions, volunteer experiences, and employment opportunities to community veterans, military service members, and their families.

It has already transformed the lives of many deserving veterans throughout eastern West Virginia. Walter Heiskell (pictured here), a disabled veteran of the Persian Gulf War, is one of those individuals.

Following military service with the U. S. Navy and the Army Reserves, personal tragedy and health problems resulted in Walter being homeless over a period of three years. After staying in several veterans’ homeless shelters in Boston, Massachusetts, during that time, Walter moved into an apartment, hoping to finally find the stability he longed for. After several months of outrageously high electric bills, he found himself paying over half of his income toward this debt. Walter’s sister and brother-in-law live in Pendleton County and had volunteered with AHHFH, and she encouraged Walter to apply for a new AHHFH home in West Virginia.

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While visiting the Spring Mountain Festival, Walter noticed the AHHFH booth. He applied in May 2014 and was approved, and subsequently worked alongside AHHFH staff at the summer blitz build where he learned all aspects of homebuilding. He hopes that it will make him better able to maintain his own home. He has also shared with high school and college volunteers what he has learned by leading them on the jobsites.

Walter is excited about owning his own home and living so close to the siblings who have been a strong support system throughout his life.

Retired Navy Chief Rich Gantert (AHHFH staff member) symbolically presents the keys to his new home to Walter Heiskell.

“I am so happy to know there are people out there willing to help build homes for other people to better their lives,” Walter said. “I have already met so many wonderful people while working with volunteers and expect some long-term friendships as a result.” Walter added, “God bless all the donors, volunteers and staff for making this happen for families like min 

Jerome Park Place Development, Morgantown, Monongalia County

Shawnda Cook-Lough of Mon County Habitat provided the following story about one of the families to be assisted with Trust Fund dollars.

Each Habitat for Humanity homeowner has an individual, highly-personal story of transformation; however, they speak with a single voice. Mon County’s newest Partner family is Danielle Walker. As she begins the construction of her new home in partnership with Habitat for Humanity, she provided this simple narrative about the meaning of her new home.

Because of this house...

“Foundation is something that provides support. Friendship is a foundation of partnership. Partnerships have allowed a foundation of ownership to myself and my two disabled sons. Our family thrives on virtues. Confucius expressed, ‘Humility is the solid foundation of all virtues’.

“A place to call home for my family is a humbling experience. It is more than assisting my neighbors with a roof, dry- wall, pluming, or painting. It’s more than assisting a customer or unloading a donation at the Mon County Habitat for Humanity ReStore. It has increased the integrity and patience of my family by mending our schedules of doctors’ ap- pointments, physical therapy, and homebound and homeschooling hours to accomplish our monthly sweat equity hours. We are inspired by our sacrifices for stability. It’s the most rewarding recognition of responsibility.

“Further, this is life changing. I have learned more than the mechanical basics of how to use a drill; consequently, we have been adopted by a new family: Habitat for Humanity and its partners. It’s amazing to witness the self-worth gained by fellow Partner families at their home dedication ceremony. The twinkle in their eyes is the honor of having decent,safehousing. Theacceptanceofknowingitwasthegoodfaith,commitment,andtheworkethicsofneighbors, volunteers, and their community which allowed them an opportunity to be a Homeowner. My family is ecstatic to be welcomed into that circle. A house is just a dwelling; conversely, a home is a foundation of freedom to a family. Thank you for choosing and supporting my family to have an everlasting, memorable new beginning.”

Mon County Habitat for Humanity strives to create stores of change, as in the story of Danielle Walker’s family, who will be the first to own one of 10 Energy Star-certified homes in the Decker’s Court development of Jerome Park. By offering a family a no-profit, 0% interest loan which results in mortgage payments that are affordable, Mon County pro- vides that family with the priceless opportunity of homeownership. Financial assistance from the Trust Fund opens doors to new homes and helps dreams become reality. The Trust Fund awarded Mon County Habitat $110,000 to help construct four single-family homes in its Jerome Park development. 

Nelson Apartments, Huntington, Cabell County

Nelson Apartments, located at 418-22 9th Street West in Huntington, Cabell County, was donated to the Cabell-Huntington Coalition for the Homeless in 2009. Dedicated to developing permanent housing for peo- ple who are homeless, the Coalition devised a plan to renovate this property built in 1925 into six, one- bedroom units to house some of Huntington’s homeless population.

The renovation work wa squite extensive with existing walls being removed and rebuilt. Therenovated structure has been completely rewired and a new heating and air conditioning system installed. Each unit is approximately 450 square feet in size.

The creation and development of Nelson Apartments is consistent with the Cabell-Huntington-Wayne Con- tinuum of Care 10-Year Strategies Plan, and is a vital element in the communities’ efforts to reduce home- lessness. Total project cost was $320,112, with $120,000 of that amount coming from the Trust Fund. Oth- er funding was obtained from the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the West Vir- ginia Housing Development Fund.

Through collaboration and hardwork, a dilapidated building has been restored and rehabilitated. Thebuild- ing is now a vital part of the community. Most importantly, some formerly homeless people now have a place to call home. 

Courtyard Apartments, Wayne, Wayne County 

Coalfield Development Corporation was awarded $15,000 from the Trust Fund for repairs to Courtyard Apartments, a 6-unit affordable housing complex in downtown Wayne, Wayne County. These dol- lars were used to address outstanding issues in the building that included a flat, rubber roof that leaked (subsequently replaced with a pitched, shingled roof that resolved that problem), and fixing a leaking HVAC unit and subsequent damages.

While Coalfield’s office has been contained in a seventh unit at Courtyard Apartments, this will change in April 2015 when the unit will be converted back into an affordable housing unit for a Wayne County family. 

 

Twelvepole Valley Apartments, Spring Valley, Wayne County 

Lena Apartments was an 18-unit USDA 515 property in Spring Valley, Wayne County, which was facing foreclo- sure until Coalfield Development Corporation (CDC) took ownership of the property in June 2014. One of the three structures on the property was inhabitable and USDA was not interested in including that building in its transaction with CDC. CDC formed Twelvepole Valley

front view

Apartments, LLC, in order to renovate the remaining 12 units of housing, and applied to the Trust Fund for assis- tance with these renovations, which are underway. 

On September 11, 2014, Huntington WV Area Habitat for Humanity intro- duced a new program thanks to funding from the West Virginia Affordable Housing Trust Fund. With a focus on helping formerly homeless veterans become homeowners and titled the Veterans Housing Initiative, the program constructsnewsingle-familyhousessolelyforsingle,adultveterans. Acollab- orative program with the Huntington VA Medical Center’s Community Re- source and Referral Center (CRRC), the Veterans Housing Initiative provides veterans the opportunity to own their own simple, decent, affordable and energy-efficient homes.

The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans estimates that 1.4 million veterans are considered at risk of homeless- ness due to poverty, lack of a support network and dismal living conditions in overcrowded or substandard housing. According to the Huntington VA Medical Center, there could be as many as 255 homeless veterans in our community by the end of 2015. The first of its kind in West Virginia, and possibly the nation, Huntington WV Area Habitat for Humanity’s Veterans Housing Initiative is tackling the housing problem within our community by creating a program to address the plight of local veterans.

Formerly homeless veterans who are currently renting an apartment or house and have expressed an interest in homeownership are eligible for the Veterans Housing Initiative. Veterans are selected and approved through the VA Medical Center. Much like Huntington WV Area Habitat for Humanity’s new homeownership program, veterans who participate in the Veterans Housing Initiative are required to complete a minimum of 100 sweat equity hours (of which 20 hours are earned by taking homeowner education classes) and are responsible for paying back a no-profit, no- interest mortgage to the affiliate over a 25-year period of time.

The benefits of this program go beyond providing a new home for a veteran in need; once that veteran moves into a completed home, the housing voucher he or she was using can be utilized by another homeless veteran in the commu- nity to secure housing. The Veterans Housing Initiative “pays it forward” so to speak. Furthermore, the homes con- structed as part of this program are smaller than the typical Habitat model, providing 600 square feet of living space.

The fair market rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Huntington, West Virginia, ranges from $425 per month (without utilities) to $533 per month (including utili- ties). A no-interest, no-profit $25,000 mortgage for 20 years on a one-bedroom Veterans Housing Initiative Home cost $217.17 per month--including taxes, insur- ance,refuseandmunicipalservicefees. Ataminimum,thisismorethana$200 cost savings per month for veterans in our community. Additionally, through the Veterans Housing Initiative, veterans are moving into safe, decent, affordable and energy-efficient homes.

Huntington WV Area Habitat for Humanity dedicated the first two Veterans Housing Initiative homes on November 11, 2014 (Veterans Day). The affiliate plans to construct and dedicate the remaining 8 homes in 2015.

Together, the Huntington WV Area Habitat for Humanity and West Virginia Af- fordable Housing Trust Fund are serving those who have served to protect our freedoms! 

 

 

 

Southern Appalachian Labor School Foundation, Incorporated (SALS) was awarded $15,000 for its housing counseling program and $75,000 for the rehabilitation of four donatedforeclosedsingle-familypropertiesinitsservicearea. Thefourrehabilitated properties will be sold to individuals who earn 50% or below the area median in- come (AMI).

Housing counseling funds are awarded when at least one staff member whose prima- ry function is housing counseling is currently, or will become, NeighborWorks NCHEC-certified through NeighborWorks America in their Pre-Purchase Home- ownership Education and Homeownership Counseling program. 

129 15th Street, Wheeling

129 15th Street is a three-story structure built in the 1920s as a three-unit apartment building located in the East Wheeling historic district. In the 1990s it was a Low-Income Housing Tax Credit project that fell into disrepair and eventual foreclosure. Vandalia Heritage Foundation acquired the building in 2010 in conjunction with its East Wheeling Neighborhood Stabilization Project (NSP), intended to help revitalize this important but then declining historic neighborhood. Vandalia has replaced the roof, cleaned out the property, and has plans for preserving its three rental units as affordable housing. Upon completion of comprehensive interior renovations in 2015 utilizing Trust Fund dollars, the building will offer three new three-bedroom, two bath units which willfeaturenewkitchensandbaths,lightingfixtures,andnewflooring. This rendering shows the building’s exterior façade with its proposed changes. 

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