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Sussex Countian
  • Sussex Habitat launches new major home repairs program

  • In an effort to expand its services, Sussex County Habitat for Humanity is launching a program that targets low income residents whose homes are in need of major repairs.
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  • In an effort to expand its services, Sussex County Habitat for Humanity is launching a program that targets low income residents whose homes are in need of major repairs.
    “Habitats across the country are looking at how to do more than just build new houses,” said Kevin Gilmore, executive director of Sussex County Habitat. “One of the things we’re seeing in Sussex County is there are a lot of people who own their houses but are unable to take care of repair issues either due to finances, physical limitations or both.”
    Tom Protack, community engagement director for Sussex County Habitat, said many of these people are senior citizens or disabled veterans who do not have the financial means to do major renovations.
    “Our goal, like our home ownership program, is to give them a hand-up and not a hand-out and to help them,” Protack said.
    Habitat already offers a Minor Home Repair Program, which focuses primarily on neighborhood beautification through painting, minor repairs and landscaping, according to the organization’s website. The Major Home Repair Program will focus on “critical health, life and safety issues” like window replacement, structural upgrades, roof replacement, insulation issues, code issues or violations and HVAC, plumbing or electrical updates.
    The Major Home Repair Program will begin in Georgetown, targeting about five homes over the next year. The first family, a father living with his adult daughter and four grandchildren on the outskirts of town, has already been approved and selected for the program.
    “The daughter and four grandchildren live in a converted living space which was once a garage,” Gilmore said. “Due to numerous leaks, they have been forced to live somewhere else for the time being. Habitat plans to replace the roof of the entire house, fix a hazardous porch and replace faulty wiring and all the damaged fascia and soffits.”
    Sussex County Habitat is accepting applications for other major repairs. Recipients during the first year must reside within the 19947 zip code, as Habitat’s funding from the Delaware State Housing Authority limits services to a specific area of the county.
    “We thought we’d start in Georgetown to pilot the program and expand from there,” Gilmore said.
    In addition to meeting household income requirements, homeowners must be willing to partner with Habitat by completing sweat equity hours. Homeowners can do so by helping to complete the repairs to their own home and by assisting with other ongoing Habitat projects. However, Gilmore said Habitat will find alternative ways of completing sweat equity for anyone with physical limitations.
    “I don’t want to discourage anyone from applying,” he said.
    For more information, visit www.sussexcountyhabitat.org, call (302) 855-1153, ext. 216, or email repairs@sussexcountyhabitat.org.

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