Habitat Home Repair takes off

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By Sarah Bennett

Since beginning its home repair service in March, Habitat for Humanity has assisted more than 10 homeowners who needed help but couldn’t afford or complete it themselves, but the organization is overwhelmed with projects and in need of volunteers.

“There’s an awful lot of need out there,” said Larry Mengel, executive director of Hardin County Habitat for Humanity.

The home repair service initially was called Brush with Kindness and offered only painting assistance, Mengel said. When the organization expanded to include other services, Habitat decided to change the name.

“Nobody understands what was meant by Brush with Kindness,” he said.

Habitat Home Repair has taken on 33 projects. Since completing its first project in June, Mengel said they’ve completed about 12 or 13 home repairs, including construction of four wheelchair ramps and a bathroom repair.

“There’s a lot of on-the-fly design that goes on,” he said. “It’s a lot different than building a house.”

Habitat has about 12 to 15 volunteers on call for projects, but Mengel said he would like to establish about five teams of 5 to 10 workers each.

The goal of Habitat Home Repair is to be doing work continuously throughout the year as opposed to just a few projects, he said, and the organization completes its big projects on Saturday with smaller repairs conducted during the weekdays.

In addition to repairs, there’s a need for fundraising projects, he said.

Habitat Home Repair’s aim is to help homeowners with necessary projects they can’t afford, and Mengel said Habitat has to reject applicants whose needs aren’t as critical as others.
Habitat only can help those whose income is less than 60 percent of the Hardin County median income, he said.

According to the organization’s website, homeowners must purchase materials required to complete the job, but financial assistance may be available in some cases.

Mengel said a lot of credit is given to those projects that have been in Habitat’s queue the longest.

“We make a decision as to what are the priorities,” he said.

Volunteers are needed to sustain Habitat Home Repair, Mengel said. Those interested in volunteering can fill out an application on the Hardin County Habitat for Humanity website or by calling (270) 360-9900 and asking for an application.

Sarah Bennett can be reached at (270) 505-1750 or sbennett@thenewsenterprise.com.