Habitat for Humanity extending reach to Pearl River County
Published 7:00 am Wednesday, January 11, 2017
A representative from the Habitat for Humanity Bay-Waveland Area spoke to members of the Rotary Club of Picayune Tuesday about upcoming efforts in Pearl River County.
Program Manager Angela Eastin asked for the group’s support and assistance in making the organization as effective as possible.
For the past few years, Habitat for Humanity hasn’t been as active in Pearl River County because of reductions in funding and staff at the Bay-Waveland branch, Eastin said.
“We’re learning how to be small,” she said, incorporating more grassroots fundraising efforts to sustain day-to-day operations.
The two most common misconceptions about Habitat for Humanity are that the organization has “a ton of money” and provides free houses, Eastin said.
But like all Habitat for Humanity organizations, the Bay-Waveland chapter requires the prospective owner to put in 250 sweat equity hours for new home builds. And, even though mortgages are interest-free, homeowners are still required to pay what they can afford, Eastin said.
Income caps also apply depending on the number of people in the household, how many are working and other factors, she said.
To date, the group has built 212 houses in its coverage area, she said. In 2017, the organization hopes to find deserving recipients in Pearl River County for new construction homes, Eastin said.
The organization is also working with Mississippi Power to provide grants worth $5,000 for weatherization efforts to qualifying families through 2018, Eastin said.
The grants are provided to qualifying homeowners, who must be customers of Mississippi Power, she said.
Improvements are then made to HVAC systems, windows, baseboards and other areas of the home to make it more efficient, Eastin said. Recently, 20 individual homes in Picayune have benefited from the program, she said.
The organization is also shifting its focus toward critical repairs or renovations instead of new construction, Eastin said.
The aim is to increase accessibility for the disabled or elderly by widening doorways and adding handrails, she said.
“Houses have good bones, and if they have good bones they can be resurrected,” Eastin said.
Recently, the organization has partnered with the Home Depot Foundation to make critical repairs to the homes of veterans. To date, the Home Depot Foundation has donated about $14 million nationwide, and has committed to $40 million by 2018, she said.
However, veterans in need of help can be the most difficult to find, Eastin said.
“They don’t like to ask for help…they don’t think they deserve it,” she said.
Eastin asked for the help of the Picayune Rotarians in finding local residents that could benefit from these services.