YOUNGSTOWN Leadership Mahoning Valley teams with Habitat to build home

The house should take about six weeks to build, according to a Leadership Mahoning Valley member.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Last spring, Millicent Counts voiced the need for a partnership with Habitat for Humanity. This spring, groundbreaking for her idea will take place.
In the interim, Counts and the 37 other members of Leadership Mahoning Valley's Class of 2001 have exceeded their funding goal for a house project.
"Our goal was $20,000 and we're up to about $22,400 and we're still getting money," said Counts, executive director of the United Methodist Community Center on Youngstown's East Side.
Counts added that the Leadership members planned a "big project" and that the need for affordable housing in the Mahoning Valley prompted her to consider working with the local Habitat chapter. Their votes led to the idea's approval.
Family criteria: Requirements for a family to be approved for the program include being subjected to a background check and having an annual income of between $13,000 and $22,000, Counts explained. Family members also have to contribute to Habitat for Humanity, Counts said.
They have to put in 30 hours of sweat equity -- working on someone else's home -- and then they're considered to be placed on a waiting list. Additional work is required before being approved for the house, Counts explained.
She said the initial 30 hours of work can include actual building, landscaping and painting, or working directly with the organization by performing clerical work and other duties.
Location undetermined: Counts also said she thinks the starter house will take about six weeks to complete, depending on weather. The home's location is still undetermined, she added.
The three-bedroom house will have a living room, kitchen and bath, she said. Also included will be a storage shed, washer and dryer, refrigerator and stove. The approved family has the option to build a garage.
"It's simple, affordable housing for low-income families. We need decent housing" in the Mahoning Valley, Counts said.
The LMV Class of 2001 graduated last June after completing a yearlong course, during which they were made aware of many of the area's resources.
Future classes will probably choose one large project, as opposed to several smaller ones, Counts predicted.
"It's preparing leaders and future leaders in the Valley and familiarizing them with the assets and positives in our Valley," Counts said. "We're prepared to lead efforts to revitalize the Mahoning Valley."

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