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County Habitat will repair homes for those in need

| Thursday, May 9, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Central Westmoreland Habitat for Humanity is working to begin “A Brush with Kindness,” a new program that will undertake repairs for homeowners.

The debut of home repair projects would complement Habitat's regular work of building new houses for families in need.

“Here in Westmoreland County ... we've probably received 10-to-1 phone calls for people who need home repairs versus people who are looking to have a home built,” said Jim Miller, executive director of Central Westmoreland Habitat for Humanity.

“A Brush with Kindness” provides labor on the exteriors of homes, such as installing a wheelchair ramp, patching a roof or replacing siding.

Until now, Miller said, Habitat was unable to help when people called him seeking home repairs because it wasn't the local nonprofit's role. Some people don't need a new house, but they do need help with an existing one, he said.

“I think it's going to impact the community tremendously,” he said. “We're ready for people that need those things to be done as long as they comply with all our regulations and requirements. ”

Miller cites the example of an elderly person living on Social Security benefits who needs but can't afford a new roof. Without repair, he said, the roof could leak and cause a mold problem.

“There's a lot of ‘Brush with Kindness' projects that might be one simple thing,” he said. “Every job's going to be a little different, depending on the scope of work that needs to be done.”

Central Westmoreland Habitat for Humanity has not yet selected homeowners for the program, Miller said. The program is income-based, and families must qualify to be selected.

Habitat for Humanity chapters across the country have undertaken “A Brush with Kindness” over the last 10 years.

The local group is working to raise money for the program and will partner with Chick-fil-A to be hosts for a fundraising campaign, Miller said.

Rossilynne Skena is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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