MT. LAUREL, N.J., April 16, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- When the Burlington County, N.J. affiliate of Habitat for Humanity needed help to rehabilitate a Mt. Laurel home for a single father, carpenters from Local Union 255 answered the call.
Brandon Hughes, 25, a single father of Brandon Jr., 6, had received his bachelor of science degree in computer information systems from Bloomfield College, found a good job as a computer technician and still could not qualify for a mortgage. They stayed with relatives, but Brandon dreamed of buying a home he could share with his son.
He couldn't find any mortgage assistance until his uncle told him about Habitat for Humanity in Burlington County. After a simple process that involved basic paperwork and a few visits to verify his eligibility, Habitat of Humanity helped him purchase a home at a zero percent interest mortgage.
"It is a great feeling to be able to walk my son to his new room and tell him that it is all his," says Brandon. "I just needed a little help and there were no other options out there to assist a working family to obtain a mortgage and build a home. That is what they gave me. They didn't hand over a brand new house like most people think."
That's where the participation of Carpenters Local Union 255 made a difference. "What makes more sense than a group of professional carpenters helping to build a home and a life?" said Local 255 member Chris Vassar. "We all get something out of it too. But it takes participation, not just a desire to get involved."
"Brandon is a single dad who works hard to give his son a great life," says Assemblyman Troy Singleton, 7th-D. "That's why it was so very easy to gather a team from Local 255 to come out and offer their expertise and skill. Most of the men and women we recruited were more than thrilled to pitch in. In fact, they wished they had known about this opportunity to give back sooner."
In order to be eligible to purchase this property, Brandon has spent 250 hours of "sweat equity." He spends these hours helping to rehabilitate the house he purchased or helping to build other homes. Sweat equity also involves taking homeowner education workshops. These classes offer tools and strategies to successfully deal with the responsibilities of home ownership.
Assemblyman Singleton, president of the NJ Carpenter Contractor Trust (NJCCT) and his staff teamed up with carpenters of Local Union 255 on April 14, to begin rehabilitating Brandon's future home. Singleton is a union carpenter with Millwright Local 715.
"It has been a pleasure to work with the skilled and dedicated carpenters of Local 255," said Habitat for Humanity Burlington County, New Jersey Affiliate Executive Director Todd Ermer. "Affordable housing is a greater need in Burlington County than people think. With more professionally qualified crews like we saw today, we could serve much more of our community every year."
Burlington County, N.J. Affiliate Habitat for Humanity (www.habitatbcnj.org) was formed in 1987 as an outgrowth of a United Way housing task force.
New Jersey Carpenter Contractor Trust (www.njcct.org) is a labor-management trust established by New Jersey's Union of Carpenters and Contractors. Through industry outreach campaigns, NJCCT explains the efficiencies of building union, the benefits to New Jersey's economy and the savings to owners and developers.
SOURCE New Jersey Carpenter Contractor Trust