Habitat

Lori Peters, left, is the new executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Columbus, taking over for Jamie Snyder, who is also pictured.

Julie Blum, The Columbus Telegram

COLUMBUS — Jamie Snyder has helped turn the keys over to new homeowners through her work with Habitat for Humanity of Columbus.

Now she's laying out the welcome mat for the new executive director of the local chapter.

Snyder held that position since 2010, when Habitat was established in Columbus. Earlier this month, though, she stepped down and handed the reins to Lori Peters.

Snyder came aboard when the idea of starting a local Habitat chapter evolved from a Leadership Columbus class. She had left her position as director of Center for Survivors and her belief in the purpose of Habitat got her involved in that project.

“I think it has got a great mission. I knew that affordable housing was a big issue in Columbus,” she said.

Habitat provides housing to individuals who can't afford a traditional mortgage. The nonprofit provides no-interest loans to people who meet specific guidelines. Homeowners make a down payment and monthly payments to the Habitat chapter, with that money used for future builds.

Each home costs approximately $90,000 and is built using donations and mostly volunteer labor. Homeowners are expected to put in “sweat equity” hours during the construction process.

Six homes have been built in Columbus through Habitat for Humanity.

Snyder, who remains involved with the organization as a board member, said it's a great feeling each time the keys to a new home are handed over to a family.

“Homeownership is a big deal,” she said.

Snyder said serving as executive director of the group is “right up there” with other work she has done with nonprofits, including working for Lutheran Family Services, establishing Center for Survivors and her involvement with a Christian social witness team at United Methodist Church.

But, she felt it was the right time to step aside.

“It is time for that next generation to step up. It’s always good to have new blood,” she said.

Peters took over as executive director on Nov. 1. Though she hasn’t headed up a nonprofit before, she has helped lead a committee that puts on the annual Immanuel Lutheran School Extravaganza and works with Scouting on both the local and district levels.

The stay-at-home mom said one of the goals Habitat has set is completing two home builds per year, double what's been previously done. Along with that there will be a need to purchase additional land outside New Hope Addition, a 16-lot area previously purchased by the Columbus chapter for home builds.

“It was so ingenious to buy the New Hope Addition because lots are very expensive. If we build two (houses) a year it will fill up, so we will be looking for new, affordable land,” she said.

Peters also wants to attract more applicants for homes. The nonprofit has struggled to find families who fit the qualifications. Potential applicants are required to attend an orientation session, the last of which had 11 in attendance. Of those, seven applied for the upcoming build that will start in the spring.

“I know they are out there,” Peters said of potential homeowners.

One way to gain more interest is by continuing to let the community know there is a local chapter. A new office for Habitat has been set up inside the First United Methodist Church Outreach Center, where information about the organization will be available for the public.

Peters praises the job Snyder has done as executive director and also how Columbus has embraced the nonprofit. Businesses have been generous with financial support and volunteers are always willing to give their time.

“The community of Columbus should take pride in what’s been done. Jamie and her team have done a wonderful job,” Peters said.

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