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Habitat for Humanity to expand repair services in Lancaster, Lebanon

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Lancaster Lebanon Habitat for Humanity plans to expand its repair services to help existing homeowners fix up and stay in their homes.

Habitat for Humanity is known for building and selling affordable homes to first-time buyers, but it also offers home-repair services to existing homeowners.

Under what it calls the 50 Homes Now initiative, the Lancaster Lebanon branch will broaden its focus on services like weatherization and minor interior/exterior work, beginning this year in Lancaster’s Southwest community, also known as SoWe.

Habitat plans to raise $640,000 by next summer to fund the initiative, which will help it decrease repair costs and offer zero-interest loans to help homeowners afford the repairs.

"While the first-time homebuyers program remains a strong vehicle for addressing housing needs, Habitat is growing its home preservation program for existing homeowners," Amy Balestier, director of communications for Lancaster Lebanon Habitat for Humanity, wrote in a press release. "Habitat can help people maintain their home, age in place and lower their utility bills."

Even as it undertakes the new initiative, Habitat plans to continue building homes over the next year in Lebanon and renovating homes on South Christian Street in Lancaster. 

Executive Director Andrew Szalay says the initiative is planned for SoWe as a part of Habitat’s collaboration with the community, and is a way for the nonprofit to aid residents more broadly.

"Lebanon used to build four homes and in Lancaster the high-water mark was seven homes in a year," Szalay said. "That is really respectable but realizing the need with home prices being what they are, lower housing stock and the interest from the residents in SoWe, making a home safe warm and dry was something they needed."

The initiative also has a neighborhood revitalization piece, a portion of which Habitat completed last month. Rock The Block, Habitat’s community-wide repair event, brought 120 volunteers together to clean the streets of SoWe, Szalay said. Habitat also plans to provide classes in repairs and home preservation in the community.

Balestier said repairs undertaken through the initiative will allow the Lancaster Lebanon branch to complete the same goal that its regular programming provides.

"One of the things we like to try to keep in mind is that the really good stuff happens years after people move into their home," she said. "Children do better in school, people have the money to save for college and job training, and they can take care of elderly parents and address medical needs. These are issues people put off when they are living in a situation that isn’t affordable."

Habitat has received requests to provide repairs outside of SoWe and Szalay said that the nonprofit will be looking to expand to more households in the coming years.

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