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Exchange hears from Habitat for Humanity

Programs offered by Habitat for Humanity are again available to Pearl River County residents.

What began as a method to ensure that everyone has a decent place to call their home, is now a world wide organization that provides assistance to people in all 50 states of the United States of America, and 70 other countries on five continents across the world.

Since its formation in the 1960s, Habitat for Humanity volunteer James Reardon said that more than 22 million people have received assistance from the non profit organization, most of which live outside the U.S.

“Homes, community and hope, that’s all we do,” said Reardon to members of the Exchange Club of Picayune during a recent meeting.

Here in Mississippi, most residents do not own the home they live in, and that’s where Habitat for Humanity can help. Statistics show that children who live in a home owned by the family get better grades in school and get in less trouble, Reardon said.

Since most people in this state rent, Reardon said the average salary to rent a home is about $30,000 annually. But most people in this state make about half of that amount per year.

In order to qualify for a Habitat for Humanity home, the applicant needs to meet a number of requirements pertaining to income and several other factors, such as never owning  a home before. Another requirement includes putting in a pre-determined amount of sweat equity into the construction of the home. Once an applicant is approved and the home is constructed, the recipient pays back the cost of the home through a  zero percent interest loan.

“We don’t do hand outs, we do hand ups,” Reardon said.

Habitat for Humanity Project Manager for Pearl River County Courtney Knight said the plan for next year is to build at least one home in this area, but repairs to other homes could take place monthly.

Habitat for Humanity also provides critical home repairs or weatherization services.

Within Mississippi there are 21 Habitat for Humanity affiliates, meaning that most counties have to share, such as the case with Pearl River County which shares the Bay/Waveland affiliate.

For more information about Habitat for Humanity or to submit an application, visit habitatbw.org.