BANGOR — Shawn and Amanda Umble believed Habitat representatives were coming to their Bangor Housing Authority apartment to ask additional questions about their application to become the next Habitat partner family. Instead, Executive Director Lynn Hempen and family selection committee chair Robin Perkins delivered the news they were hoping for: they had already been selected, receiving unanimous support from the Habitat for Humanity the committee and the board of directors.
The Umble family will partner with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Bangor to help build a home they ultimately will own. Habitat partner families purchase a home at a discount with a minimal down payment. After construction is complete, the Umble family will purchase the Bangor home, taking advantage of a 30-year, zero-interest loan provided by the local affiliate of the well-known Habitat for Humanity International.
The Umbles submitted their application in December and were notified in February that they had been selected as one of two finalists. In late February, they were visited by members of Habitat’s family selection and supportcCommittee who verified their need for better housing, their ability to take on the responsibilities of home ownership, and their willingness to invest sweat equity into building their home.
The Umbles have three children, ages 11, 9 and 2. “The idea of having our own home has always been a driving force for us,” said Amanda Umble. “I have talked with my children about the day we will get our own house since they were babies, but it just never seemed like it was going to happen. We feel blessed beyond comprehension to finally be able to provide this kind of stability for our children and show them that you can have dreams and make them a reality.”
“We’re thrilled to partner with the Umbles,” said Hempen of the selection. “Habitat’s program is designed to give a hand up to families just like them. They are working incredibly hard to provide for their family, with three jobs between the two of them. But the more they earn, the higher their rent. With each new job or wage increase, they lose benefits like food stamps and MaineCare. Yet they live within their means. They have even managed to save some money, but not near enough for a traditional down payment.”
“Bangor Housing was a life saver in the beginning,” said Umble. “But our family has grown, conditions are cramped, and we want the stability that owning a home can bring.”
Lin Lufkin, Habitat board member and lead construction volunteer on the last three Habitat builds in Greater Bangor, is eager to start talking with the family about house plans. But, the groundbreaking date won’t be set until fundraising is complete. “We hope to raise enough in-kind and cash donations in order to break ground this summer,” said Lufkin. “This community rallies around Habitat builds, and we are grateful for that. We hope those who have been so generous in the past will help us again. Of course, we’re also looking to get new businesses, faith communities, volunteers and organizations involved. A Habitat build is a rewarding experience for everyone and a great investment in our community.”
Habitat Board President Seamus Higgins is optimistic about a build this summer and acknowledged the critical role the city of Bangor is playing to make it possible. “Like all Habitat builds, this one will require a community effort. But, this wouldn’t be happening at all if the City of Bangor weren’t committed to neighborhood revitalization and hadn’t agreed to essentially donate this lot. This is a win for the city, for the neighborhood and for the Umbles. We couldn’t be happier to serve as the catalyst for so much positive change.”
To learn more about the program, sign up to volunteer, or make a donation, visit habitatbangor.org or call 942-8977.