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Leslie Street's joyful season Ribbon cutting: West Baltimore rowhouses establish new standard of excellence for low-income houses.; Bright Lights


THE HOLIDAYS are coming early for Jane Johnson. The 29-year-old mother of three will become a homeowner today and move her family from public housing to a brand-new $40,000 rowhouse in West Baltimore's Sandtown-Winchester.

"This is a true blessing for us," Ms. Johnson said, proudly showing her three-bedroom house that has two baths, an unfinished basement and a patch of grass in a fenced back yard.

And this is a proud day for Habitat for Humanity -- and hundreds of volunteers and corporate and religious sponsors -- whose efforts produced the cluster of handsome brick-veneer homes in the 1500 block of Leslie St. Imaginatively designed by architect Mary McDonnell, they establish a new standard for low-income homes.

Since former President Jimmy Carter kicked off the Sandtown Habitat for Humanity program in 1992, volunteers have completed 130 homes. Each has been sold at cost to neighborhood residents who assume a zero-percent, 20-year mortgage.

Like other new homeowners, Ms. Johnson contributed at least 430 hours of sweat equity. "I did framing, painting, caulking and a lot of cleaning," says the assistant director of New Song Academy, a neighborhood church school that operates in partnership with the city.

In a city of much deterioration, the Habitat for Humanity houses ++ are an unqualified success. They were built on hope, love and faith.

Bright Lights spotlights people who make a difference in the quality of life of this area. It appears periodically in this column.

Dedication of the new houses will be at 2 p.m. today in the 1500 block of Leslie St.

Pub Date: 12/05/98

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