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Habitat For Humanity Dedicates McKeesport Home

Michael Lynch
90.5 WESA

Shawnda Little-Dreher and Timothy Dreher were handed the keys to their new McKeesport residence Friday, becoming the 74th local family to receive a home through Habitat for Humanity.

Credit Michael Lynch / 90.5 WESA
90.5 WESA
Habitat for Humanity has built or renovated 80 homes in Pittsburgh since 1986.

“It’s blessing and we are very excited,” Shawnda said. “We’ve been waiting for a long time.”

Timothy Dreher works in housekeeping at the human services agency Auberle in McKeesport, while Shawnda studies business at the Community College of Allegheny County South Campus. She hopes to pursue a career in catering once she earns her degree. Their daughter Tamia is a junior at McKeesport Area High School.

While renting elsewhere in McKeesport, their landlord was actively seeking to sell the property, which would have left the family with nowhere to live.

Shawnda said the community they’re coming from has a history of violence and crime.

“Someone got shot right in front of our house last year, and this is so much better,” she said, “so much more peaceful.”

After putting 350 hours of what Habitat for Humanity calls “sweat equity” into their new home and the homes of others as a down payment, Timothy and Shawnda can call themselves homeowners.

The family’s interest-free mortgage, which includes homeowner’s insurance, municipal, county and school taxes, will be less than $550 per month for the next 25 to 30 years. The Drehers, like all other Habitat for Humanity homeowners, will have their mortgage payments put into the “Fund for Humanity” that helps build homes for other families.

Maggie Withrow, executive director for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Pittsburgh, said hundreds of volunteers spent more than a year working on the project.

“Habitat’s goal is to have a hand-up not a handout,” she said. “They’ve been given the opportunity and I think this is going to be one of our success families.”

Habitat for Humanity has built or renovated 80 homes in Pittsburgh since 1986.

The typical Habitat for Humanity homeowner has an income between 30 and 50 percent of Allegheny County’s 2013 median earnings of $65,100. The maximum income to qualify for the program is 60 percent of the median.

The Erie, PA native has been a fellow in the WESA news department since May 2013. Having earned a bachelor's degree in print journalism from Duquesne University, he is now pursuing an M.A. in multi-media management. Michael describes his career aspiration as "I want to do it all in journalism."