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Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity volunteers work in Baltimore's Brooklyn neighborhood in April 2014.

Two Md.-based Habitat for Humanity groups merge

Two Maryland-based Habitat for Humanity groups announced Wednesday their plans to merge.

Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake and Sandtown Habitat for Humanity will complete their merger by the fall, the organizations’ boards of directors said.

Habitat for Humanity is an international nonprofit that works to build affordable housing for low-income families or people who have been displaced from their homes. It has more than 1,500 chapters in the United States and about 80 outside the country.

The combined organization will operate under the name of Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake. Mike Posko, CEO of the Chesapeake chapter, will remain the top executive. Sandtown’s co-directors LaVerne Stokes and Mike Barb will be part of the senior management team.

“By combining the resources of these two strong Central Maryland affiliates, the new entity will be better positioned to meet the growing needs of affordable housing in the community,” said Michael Brennan, board chair of Habitat Chesapeake, in a statement.

“The boards of both organizations have recognized the opportunity to achieve more efficient and effective use of donor dollars, while providing the ability to partner with more families than ever before,” Brennan said.

The organizations starting talking earlier this year about ways to work together. The boards of both chapters recently voted unanimously in favor of the merger.

The combined organization will continue each group’s existing programs serving people in Central Maryland: Baltimore, Anne Arundel and Howard counties and the city of Baltimore.

Families living on 25 to 60 percent of the area’s median income are eligible for homeownership programs. People accepted into the program must agree to invest 250 hours of “sweat equity” building homes for themselves and other families.

They must successfully complete the organization’s “Homebuyer Academy” (a 50-hour course on financial literacy, home maintenance and community-building), and they must make payments toward a no-interest 30-year mortgage set at 30 percent of their income.

Additionally, Habitat for Humanity operates retail outlets known as “ReStores,” where new and gently used home furnishings and building materials are sold below market price. There are five ReStores are in Central Maryland.

“The economies of scale and combined resources of a merger will provide our community with an even stronger voice as we advocate for affordable housing,” said Bert Hash Jr., board chair of Sandtown Habitat.