Almost Heaven Habitat For Humanity Looking For Property In Durbin
Durbin, WV – Almost Heaven Habitat For Humanity is looking for property to buy in Durbin. Representatives from the non-profit organization asked Durbin council for help locating building lots to purchase at council’s regular meeting on Tuesday night.
Almost Heaven Habitat For Humanity seeks to eliminate substandard housing and homelessness in eastern West Virginia. The organization plans to bring a group of volunteers to Durbin this summer to build at least two homes and perform repair projects. Almost Heaven executive director Michelle Connor tells council the price range the group has paid for building lots.
“We have price ranges that we pay, depending on if the property has public water or public sewer, or has the ability,” she said. “We have paid as little as $1 for a lot, before and we’ve paid as much as $15,000 for a building lot that had public water, public sewer.”
“We’re looking to acquire soon, like in the next 30-60 days,” Connor added.
Almost Heaven provides volunteers of all skill levels, who work side-by-side with future homeowners, to build the homes. The group then sells the homes to qualified families or individuals with no-profit, no-interest mortgage terms.
In addition to new home construction this summer, Almost Heaven plans to repair homes for qualified veterans. Any veteran, not dishonorably discharged, with an income less than approximately $21,600, can qualify for low-cost home repairs. Almost Heaven pays 50% of the cost and finances the remainder with no interest.
Connor said Almost Heaven is recruiting for a local VISTA volunteer, who will help coordinate construction projects. The director says the group prefers a local resident.
“Folks from New Jersey and North Carolina have expressed interest in the position,” she said. “But we really feel strongly that we’d like to have that position be somebody who already lives in Pocahontas County – who understands the geography, who knows some of the people here. I believe the current stipend is $1,100 a month – is what it pays – but it does provide health insurance and dental. It has an educational award or an additional cash stipend, provided in the end.”
Council agreed to help locate property for Almost Heaven projects and voted 6-0 to authorize the mayor to terminate a lease on a bunkhouse in Durbin, owned by the State Rail Authority. Councilmember John Osborne was not present. Almost Heaven plans to use the bunkhouse for volunteer housing this summer, and will begin repairs on the building as early as next week.
Anyone interested in applying for a Habitat For Humanity home can pick up an application at the Durbin town office. Anyone interested in selling property to Almost Heaven should call Michelle Connor at 304-358-7642. For more information, call board member Jason Bauserman at 304-456-4915, or see the group’s website at almostheavenhabitat.org.
Durbin resident George Hipes asked council about the hiring of Mayor Donald Peck as Durbin Days coordinator for $700, when Peck said he would do it for $500.
“This money is not – every penny of it comes from the people, the residents of Durbin,” he said. “Why do you give a man $700 when he agreed – ‘I’ll take $500 and do the job.’?”
Councilmember Mike Vance tells Hipes the job was advertised for $650 plus travel, last year, but that council decided to make it a flat $700 payment for this year.
“We did advertise the job for $650,” said Vance. “So, we was paying mileage, out of there, for him to travel. This year, we decided, we took it to $700 and that’s included for everything.”
Vance said money used to pay the coordinator comes from money raised by the town during the annual festival. Peck said he did the job for free for many years, but couldn’t afford it anymore. Hipes said the “good old boy” system was still in effect.
“The good old boy system in Durbin – I scratch your back, you scratch my back,” he said. “It’s always been the good old boy system in Durbin and it’s still running strong.”
In other business, Durbin council voted 6-0 to raise the pay for cleaning of the town offices from $10 a month to $20 a month.