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Ground is broken for the 20th Habitat House in Athens County

ATHENS, Ohio (March 9, 2006) -- Ground was broken on Thursday, March 9, for the 20th Habitat for Humanity House in Athens County. The lot is located on W. Fourth Street in The Plains, Ohio. The Ohio University Coalition of Athens County Habitat for Humanity, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI Ohio), the Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati (FHLB) and the Community Housing Improvement Program (CHIP) are sponsoring this build.

Photos by Rick FaticaThe Brigante family is scheduled to occupy the house by June 30. Robin Brigante is a 2005 Ohio University alumna who was rendered paraplegic after a car accident in fall 2004. Brigante earned her bachelor of specialized studies degree to become a drug and alcohol counselor. She will live in the house with her 20-year-old son, Treavis Poynter.

"Ohio University is committed to actively sharing our resources to improve the quality of life in southeastern Ohio," Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis said. "We are especially proud to be involved in this build as we work to create a home for one of Ohio University's own, Robin Brigante, who has shown incredible strength as she earned her degree and displayed a distinct commitment to her education."

More than 20 interior architecture students from the university's College of Health and Human Services' School of Human and Consumer Sciences have developed floor plans for the build. Under the leadership of Associate Professor David Matthews, the students are part of the Design Group student organization, which initiated its partnership with Habitat for Humanity because of a desire to be active in community projects while learning directly from the design and construction experience.

The purchase of the lot was made possible by a grant from the CHIP program and an Ohio University employee, Jim Yute, and his wife, Maggie, who agreed to sell the property at below market value.

"We are all very appreciative of Jim and Maggie's generous contribution and all of the partners that have made it possible to provide a suitable home for Robin and her son," Athens County Habitat for Humanity President Mick Harris said.

During the groundbreaking ceremony, McDavis, Harris and NAMI executives Terry Russell and Tom Walker offered remarks about the build.

More than 900 families in Athens County live in substandard housing, according to the Athens Metropolitan Housing Authority. A study compiled by the Habitat for Humanity in Washington, D.C., found that 38 percent of Habitat homeowners said their new Habitat home had a positive effect on the physical health of their children and 63 percent reported a positive change in their children's grades at school.

Habitat for Humanity is an ecumenical, nonprofit organization whose goal is to eliminate substandard housing by working in partnership with families to build safe, decent and affordable homes. Costs are kept low by using as much volunteer labor and donated materials as possible. To select future Habitat homeowners, the Habitat reviews an applicant family's need for a home, ability to repay a no-interest mortgage and willingness to partner with Habitat. The selected families are required to contribute hundreds of hours of "sweat equity" on their homes, by working side by side with Habitat volunteers on building-related projects such as construction and fund raising.

Each Habitat for Humanity home is sold to a family in need at no profit and at no interest. The cost of the home is then repaid by a no-interest mortgage over a fixed period of time. These payments are then recycled to build more houses in Athens County. Homes have been built in Athens, Coolville, Amesville, Nelsonville, Sharpsburg and Glouster. Nineteen homes have been built in Athens County since 1990.

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Media Contact: Media Relations Coordinator Jessica Stark, 740-597-2938 or starkj@ohio.edu

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