AKRON, Ohio – The Summit County Habitat for Humanity dedicated eight new homes to Akron at a block party Wednesday.
The East Avenue / Chester Street project is the largest single-parcel redevelopment project in the organization’s 35-year history, according to Rochelle Sibbio, president and CEO of Habitat for Humanity in the county by Summit (HHSC). The homes were built in two phases, with four homes completed in 2020 and four more completed earlier this year.
Longtime Akron resident and mother of two Erin Skipper is one of the recipients of the houses. Skipper and his children moved into their three bedroom, one bathroom home on Chester Street in February. She chose Chester Street because it is a quiet street with little traffic, which is ideal for her children.
“It’s exciting, I love my house,” Skipper said.
To be approved for a home and mortgage, adult homeowners must work 250 hours alongside volunteers or at Habitat for Humanity Restore. Homeowners are also required to complete an eight-hour home maintenance course and financial management and budgeting courses, according to Sibbio.
It’s a process that usually takes 2-3 years, but a skipper is done in just five months. Skipper and the other Habitat for Humanity recipients have 30-year interest-free mortgages. But the payment is half of the $ 900 in monthly rent she was paying to live in Section 8 income-based housing, she said.
“We recently started a five-year campaign, and one of the things Akron Public Schools Superintendent David James said in his testimony was when you have to worry about coming home at the end of the school day to pack boxes and bags just because of the rent situations for families, it takes its toll on them, ”Sibbio said.
Demand for housing continues to grow, according to Sibbio, who said the organization has received more applicants this year than ever before. Yet even as demand increases, largely due to the pandemic and its aftermath, HHSC faces challenges. The cost of building materials, not just wood, has gone up, according to Sippio. And supply chain outages have impacted construction times, she said. But despite these challenges, the HHSC continues its mission of providing affordable, high-quality housing.
HHSC currently has four new homes under construction in Akron that are expected to be completed by September: two in Goodyear Heights, one in Firestone Park and one in North Hill. An additional house in Stow is being renovated and is expected to be completed in August, according to Sippio.
But to help meet the demand, HHSC needs both skilled and unskilled volunteers to help build houses.
“Being able to volunteer and then be invited to dedication to the family and then walk past the house years and years later and know you’ve made a difference in family life, you can’t save an amount of money on it, ”Sippio mentioned.
To learn more about volunteer opportunities, visit Summit County Habitat for Humanity website.
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