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December 15, 2017     Cape Gazette
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December 15, 2017

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Sussex County Habitat for Humanity is one of the county's main resources providing af- fordable homeownership for low-income families. But the organization is finding it increas- ingly difficult to acquire suitable building lots for its rapidly grow- ing home construction program. "Providing affordable housing is always a challenge," said Kevin Gilmore, executive director of the local Habitat affiliate. "But it's getting even more challeng- ing here in southern Delaware. Real estate prices are climbing again, making land purchases more difficult for us, and land donations - the lifeblood of our construction program - are not keeping up with our need for new building lots." Sussex Habitat builds and re- habs 12 to 15 homes per year, and has more qualified homeowner- ship applicants than building lots in its inventory. "There are plenty of proper- ties out there," said Jack Moore, Habitat's property acquisition coordinator. "But affordable properties? Not so much. At least not in our current target areas of Laurel, Seaford and Ellendale. We build and rehab attractive, modestly sized homes that ap- praise for between $150,000 and $165,000. By using volunteers and donated materials, Habitat can manage construction costs. The price of the property then becomes the critical variable. To make the numbers work, we generally need to purchase properties at below-market pric- ing. We're just not finding very many that are suitable and priced right." Of course, Sussex Habitat re- lies primarily on donated lots to keep its overall construction budget in check. Moore is quick to point out that donors may enjoy certain tax benefits while knowing their donation will make a huge difference in an- other family's life. "We typically build new homes, but more and more we are rehabbing existing homes. We'll take an older home and install a new roof, update the kitchen and baths, put in a new HVAC system, make sure the electrical and plumbing systems are in good working order, and refurbish the interior to get it ready for a new Habitat home- buyer," said Moore. "Everyone deserves a safe and comfortable home," said Gilmore. "But not everyone can achieve that without a little help. That's where Habitat is able to make a difference. “The families that come to us for assistance typically have one or two working parents and cur- rently live in substandard, often temporary housing. So a Habitat home is enormously helpful in stabilizing that family and then getting them on an upward tra- jectory. But this is no hand-out. Our clients must qualify for a mortgage and must be willing to contribute 200-plus hours of sweat equity in the construction of a Habitat home." To discuss options about do- nating or selling buildable land or a rehab-worthy home to Sus- sex County Habitat, contact Jack Moore. Sussex County Habitat encourages potential donors to speak to a tax advisor to learn more about the financial benefits of making a donation. To make a contribution or volunteer, call Sussex Coun- ty Habitat for Humanity at 302-855-1153 and go to sussex- Delaware Seashore State Park will be offering programs Wednesday through Saturday, Dec. 27-30, giving participants the opportunity to get out and about during the holidays. Families are invited to attend a squid dissection class at 1 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 27. Participants will get to dissect their own squid specimen while learning about its adaptations for sur- vival. Cost is $6 per person and recommended for ages 6 and up. At 7 p.m., visitors can venture to the Indian River Life-Saving Station for the ever-popular lan- tern tour for a journey through the station's past, lit by lantern light. This program is $10 and is recommended for ages 10 and up. Park staff will be hosting an upcycling craft, known as nauti- cal flag art, at 1 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 18. Visitors will learn about the history and uses of the In- ternational Code of Signals, and then paint their own message in nautical flags on a piece of reclaimed wood from the park itself. This program is $20 per person, and is recommended for ages 10 and up. Park visitors are invited to get outside and hike parts of the park Friday, Dec. 29. At 1 p.m., a park naturalist will lead a guided hike of Burton Island Nature Pre- serve. A guided sunset hike of the Indian River Inlet bridge will be offered at 4 p.m. Both hikes are $5 per person. A family-friendly guided mu- seum tour of the Indian River Life-Saving Station will be at 10 a.m., Saturday, Dec. 30. Tours are $5 per person. At 1 p.m., the park will be debuting a new program about park stewardship entitled New Age Beachcombing, which is also $5 per person. Programs require prereg- istration. To register, call 302-227-6991. For more informa- tion, go to park/delaware-seashore/pro- grams/index.asp. Trust Our Experience. Realtors, lenders, buyers, and sellers trust us to provide exceptional real estate settlement services in Delaware and Pennsylvania. It is our goal to earn your trust. L–R: Jonathan Taylor, Elisa Morris, Megan Broomall-Filliben, Barbara Brodoway, Meaghan Mahoney Hudson, Jerry Proffitt, Nancy Law, Roz Williams, Bill Ward FOUR CONVENIENT SETTLEMENT LOCATIONS TO SERVE YOU. Wilmington: 2710 Centerville RD, Suite 200 Wilmington, DE 19808 (302) 225-3350 Dover: 83 Greentree Drive Dover, DE 19904 (302) 346-7000 Rehoboth Beach: 37212 Rehoboth Ave. Ext. Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971 (302) 227-1403 Middletown: 242 Dove Run Boulevard Middletown, DE 19709 (302) 225-3350 302-752-8560 Wash Buggy 302-752-8560 Visit Serving Locals Since 1990 Licensed and Insured Call the company that locals have been using for 26 years! LEAVES, STICKS & DIRT GUTTER CLEANING * FREE ESTIMATES * It’s never too late to train your little helper! | 302.236.2497 K-10 DOG TRAINING K-10 DOG TRAINING K-10 Dog Training is licensed & insured. ABC Certified Dog Trainer, ABC Mentor, CGC Evaluator TPU: Therapy Dog Evaluator 34 FRIDAY, DECEMBER 15 - MONDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2017 NEWS Cape Gazette State park offers programs over holidays Dec. 27-30 Each program requires preregistration Habitat seeks building lots to meet demands for affordable housing