Habitat for Humanity in Bel Air

A house in the 400 block of Giles Street was due to be demolished this week to make way for the first Habitat for Humanity home to be built in Bel Air. (PHOTO BY MATT BUTTON | AEGIS STAFF / January 24, 2013)

Habitat for Humanity Susquehanna, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, will begin construction of its first house in Bel Air next month.

An existing house in the 400 block of Giles Street was demolished Thursday and a groundbreaking ceremony for the new house will take place Feb. 8.

"High land values have made it difficult for Habitat to build a home [in Bel Air]," town Planning Director Kevin Small said.

Habitat Susquehanna is an affiliate of the Georgia-based Habitat for Humanity International, which has supported the construction of housing for low-income families throughout the world.

Volunteers perform the vast majority of construction tasks, and the homeowners must put in at least 250 hours of "sweat equity" in building the house. The homeowner must meet income requirements and demonstrate his or her ability to repay the mortgage provided by Habitat.

The Susquehanna affiliate has built 66 homes in Harford and Cecil counties since 1993, Caroline Adolph, development associate, said.

"We build simple, decent, affordable homes, so this property really suited all our needs," Adolph said of the Giles Street property.

In the past, most of the Habitat homes in Harford County have been built in the Route 40 area, particularly in the Aberdeen and Edgewood areas.

Habitat received a grant from Harford County and the town of Bel Air to purchase the Giles Street property. Small said the town is also providing in-kind services such as hauling the demolition debris away and some excavation for utilities.

The Bel Air Downtown Alliance and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development have also provided support for the project.

Joe Winkler Excavation of Harford County, which has partnered with Habitat on other projects, handled the demolition.

Adolph said Habitat is raising funds for construction of the house. In similar projects in the past, Habitat has worked with the construction technologies classes at Harford Technical High School in Bel Air.

The Crouse family of Bel Air has been selected to live in the home, Adolph said.