Local families get help rebuilding their homes through ASP
Published 9:08 am Monday, November 16, 2015
Three local homes are being completely rebuilt, thanks to a new program through the Appalachian Service Project.
The program, New Build Appalachia, is funded through the Appalachian Resource Commission, a grant from Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati and private donors.
“It makes a huge change in people’s lives because a lot of them are coming from a situation in their home in which they’ve been living in a repair nightmare — where there’s no way they’ll have the money to repair that home or get it stabilized — into a brand new house,” said Tri-Cities Center Supervisor Will Crumley. “It absolutely changes their lives.”
The program is unique, Crumley said, because the residents have no mortgage once it is complete. Organizations like Eastern Eight and Habitat for Humanity provide affordable housing for residents through low-interest loans, but Crumley said New Build Appalachia aids a different sector of the population.
“We serve a section of the public that they can’t,” he said. “A lot of people we serve couldn’t even afford a $200 monthly payment.”
Two of the three homes they are building locally are in Hampton, and the other is off Milligan Highway.
Roy and Eula Ellison, one of the families in Hampton, will get a new home, after their previous one was completely destroyed by fire in January.
“For them it’s made all the difference in the world,” said their daughter Sharon Pilk. “They lost everything; this is a new start for them.”
The Eillsons lived in their home for more than 60 years and raised their children there before losing it in the fire, Crumley said. Their new home will go in almost the exact same spot, he added.
Another Hampton family getting a new home is Michelle and Justin Guy and their two children. Crumley said their house had a number of issues, but the worst was mold in places that would not dry. Their new home will go in the same location that it previously was.
A woman that lives off Milligan Highway will also have her home rebuilt. She contracted polio at one week old and has since had her mobility limited to a wheelchair. Crumley said she does not have the means to make repairs and that only half of her home is handicap accessible. Her brand new home will accommodate her mobility.
Those receiving new homes have been extremely grateful and having a new home helps them in numerous ways, Crumley said.
One example he noted was a home built for a woman living in the Dry Creek area of Washington County. Her income was less than $800 per month, and Crumley said more than half of it was going directly to the payment of heating and other utilities. After she moved into her new home, her utilities cost about $90 per month. Crumley noted that, beyond not getting dripped on when it rained and other problems, she essentially doubled her income through the savings on her utility payments.
Applicants must meet the program criteria by owning the land and home and by earning an income lower than 50 percent of the area median income. Preference is also given to those living in areas classified by ARC as distressed, though Crumley said anyone is welcome to apply.
“Most of the work we do is home repairs,” said Crumley. “We visit a lot of houses that do not need to be replaced.”
One requirement of residents receiving new homes is that they cannot sell the homes for at least five years. Crumley said that 90 percent of the people say they’ll never sell it.
Repairs are funded by money raised by ASP and through volunteer fees. Annually, 17,000 people volunteer with the program — 14,000 of which work during the summer months. Last year, volunteers came from 30 states, but Crumley said many are local and volunteer on a weekly or monthly basis.
This week, a group of 50 from Chicago called Solid Rock Carpenters are in town building the frames for the three new homes. Crumley said the homes should be completed between Christmas and New Years.
The program is set up so the federal home loan is matched by private funding. For the homes in Hampton, Gene Gorab from Connecticut will provide the private funding.
“He’s been coming to ASP for years and is a big proponent for what new houses can do for people and how that can change their situation in life,” said Crumley. “He is financially blessed and makes a point to support us.”
Crumley said they have some sponsors that want to build homes for veterans, so they would love to see veteran applicants.
Project headquarters are located in Johnson City, and interested applicants for repairs or rebuilds may visit asphome.org.