Habitat to build in SuffolkPublished 10:51pm Thursday, March 21, 2013
Habitat for Humanity plans to build 10-12 homes on a lot south of downtown after City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to transfer the land.
Construction could begin as soon as October on the strip of land just north of the White Marsh Plaza shopping center, near the intersection of White Marsh Road and Lake Kennedy Drive.
Helen Sommer, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of South Hampton Roads, said plans are not yet finalized, but the houses would be the “standard Habitat model” of single-family homes for families making 40 to 80 percent of the area’s median income.
“We’re very excited to be able to bring more good quality affordable housing to folks in Suffolk,” Sommer said. “Hopefully next fall, we’ll have lots of volunteer opportunities.”
Habitat for Humanity has done work in Suffolk before, most notably a Builders Blitz in the North Suffolk community of Huntersville in 2008 that brought 16 new homes to families.
Sommer said another blitz is not likely on the White Marsh property because of changing economic times. However, it may still happen if enough builders are interested.
Barring a blitz, the organization will complete a couple houses a year until the lot is built out, she said.
Habitat for Humanity families are chosen based on their level of need of safe, decent housing and their ability to make a down payment and repay the mortgage. They also must commit to a certain number of hours helping to build their own and others’ homes, a concept known by Habitat as “sweat equity.”
Habitat uses donated materials and volunteer labor to make the houses as affordable as possible.
Sommer said the Suffolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority would be helping to identify families who would be good matches for the homes through its financial self-sufficiency program, but anyone who applies will have a chance to get a home.
City Council members on Wednesday were excited about the project.
“Habitat for Humanity has been very good to Suffolk and has been good for the region,” said Vice Mayor Charles Brown.
Councilman Roger Fawcett said he is eager to volunteer to help build the homes and encouraged his colleagues to do the same.
“This is quite a win-win situation,” he said. “I love these kinds of things.”