Since 1986, the Habitat for Humanity Homeownership Program has been helping individuals in the Williamsport area overcome, what may have seemed insurmountable obstacles, in order to realize the dream of owning their own home.
Now the group is in the process of building a duplex on Scott Street, which will be its build 52 and 53. The property at the current site is one that was sold to the Habitat for Humanity by the city for $1, although that’s rarely the way it happens, according to Katie McCaslin, program director.
“We would like it if it happened more,” she said. “Other times we are gifted land from individuals. We check out the land to make sure it’s not in a flood plain or anything like that. That it’s something that we could build on in a safe neighborhood.”
The process for applying to own a home built by Habitat for Humanity is lengthy, sometimes taking up for a year.
“It’s an extensive process. It usually takes six months to a year. There’s the initial application and interview session where we describe our program and what we base our selection off of,” McCaslin said.
To Ellen Williams, of Williamsport, a single mom, being able to have her own home is a “blessing.”Williams and her two children will be one of the families occupying the new building on Scott Street.
“I could not have done it any other way at this point in my life,” she said.
McCaslin said one of the primary priciples Habitat looks for is the housing need.
She said this could mean that the applicant is living in a situation that is not safe, especially if there are children involved, such as a house that is falling apart where the landlord refuses to make the needed repairs. An applicant could also be “couch surfing,” a situation McCaslin said a lot of agencies don’t consider as having a need. Also, if a family does not have enough bedrooms to accommodate family members, that is considered a housing need by Habitat for Humanity.