Last updated: July 23. 2014 10:32AM - 552 Views
By Ilene Haluska ihaluska@civitasmedia.com

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CELINA — A non-profit veterans organization is partnering with a construction company in Celina to provide affordable housing for veterans and serving soldiers in Ohio.

“We purchased two [housing] lots from the city of Celina and will build on one lot and after that we’ll see what needs will be in Auglaize and Darke Counties,” said Homer Burnett, president of Lots for Soldiers in Celina.

The first new home in Celina is expected to go to a U.S. Navy veteran of the Iraqi Conflict this September. Lots for Soldiers has partnered with a builder to construct the home, St. John Builders in Celina.

The future homeowner was selected based on screening processes from Lots for Soldiers and from the builder for the ability to pay a mortgage. Also, the costs of building a home are kept down because many things are donated, Burnett explained. The Celina Veterans of Foreign Wars post helped donate funds to purchase the property, according to one report.

“We provide the lot and solicit donations and funds for building the house,” Burnett said of his organization, noting it resulted in a mortgage of $40,000 but the home appraisal could be $100,000.

“We had all of the interior and exterior doors donated at no cost, that’s just one example,” Burnett said of keeping the building costs down. Even the appliances, carpeting and windows were donated to keep costs down for the veteran.

As for Darke County, Burnett said the seven member Lots for Soldiers board doesn’t have immediate plans just long-term initiatives to help elsewhere. The organization itself is still in the process of establishing as a non-profit, he said.

Lots for Soldiers started with Burnett. He explained how he saw the patriotism and support his father received from being a World War II veteran. He was a Vietnam veteran and did not have that same support. He wanted to keep up the momentum after 9/11 and for veterans to have the support his father had.

“Celina had this property and that spurred us on,” he said. “When I was a youngster, and my father was a WWII vet, I recalled his marching in parades. I’m a Vietnam veteran and didn’t have that. Now with 9/11 the spirit has come back and we’re trying to keep that spirit thriving.”

Thomas Pitman of the Darke County Veterans Services says that it sounds like a good program, but there’s nothing like it in Darke County and there may be a need for it.

“We try to help with financial assistance to secure a rental property, but there’s no specific program for veterans to purchase a home,” he said. “There’s the Darke County Fuller Center for Housing.”

“If they need mortgage assistance we could help them pay their payment based on a need and an application process for that and it’s a temporary emergency type of thing.”

He added the Veteran’s Affairs loan program offers help for veterans to get a lower interest rate and a guarantee on the loan amount.

“There’s a lot of misconceptions about it, but you have to meet the same criteria as the bank,” Pitman said.

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