Group has built 31 houses in Middletown with more planned

With five new homes nearing completion in Middletown, Habitat for Humanity will have built 31 houses in town with seven more planned, mostly in the East Lake Street neighborhood.

The nonprofit group chose the East Lake Street area for several reasons, but was at first approached by a Middletown resident who asked about providing housing in the town, said Kevin L. Smith, chief executive officer for Habitat for Humanity of New Castle County.

“We then went looking and the town [government] helped us find some land near East Lake Street to build four new homes,” Smith said. “After we built those homes, we looked around and saw that the area nearby needed help and we choose to concentrate on East Lake Street to make more of a difference. The area also is where we could find the most affordable and available lots.”

On Nov. 18, Habitat for Humanity dedicated three of its five houses at its Springlake project on Elizabeth Street, which is near East Lake Street. Those three houses are awaiting certificates of occupancy and the other two are nearing completion.

Maxine Davenport is one of the new homeowners at the dedication ceremony. She said she found the idea of her own home to be “exciting” and “refreshing” and it will motivate her five children “to be on a positive path.”

Habitat for Humanity owns seven other lots and eventually will build homes on those lot in the same neighborhood, Smith said. Four of those are planned to be built starting June 2018, and the remaining three will be built in 2019.

Construction is dependent on receiving the donated funds, getting enough volunteers, and future home buyers.

“Our strategy is to seed new homeowners in a community to help bring stability, and revitalization, which has happened in this part of Middletown,” Smith said.

The organization’s efforts were helped when New Castle County contributed $100,000 to buy the land for the houses

Habitat for Habitat still needs the community and residents of Middletown to help with the project. Residents can help in a number of ways. They can volunteer at the current construction site and future homes the organization will be renovating. They can call 302-652-0365, ext. 110 to volunteer.

“No construction experience is necessary. We work 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays and one day a week. If they cannot volunteer for a full day, they can volunteer in our ReStore in Middletown off of South Broad Street. Please call the same number to volunteer,” he said.

Habitat for Humanity also needs donations of money to buy materials, hire sub-contractors, and, in general, build homes. It costs the organization $150,000 to build a house from the ground up in Middletown.

Another way to help is by donating furniture and construction materials in good shape at the Middletown ReStore or by shopping at the ReStore where all proceeds help build the homes.

In general, Habitat for Humanity of New Castle County has focused its work in five different neighborhoods – three in Wilmington, one along the Route 9 corridor in New Castle, and the East Lake Street area in Middletown.

“We build new homes, renovate homes, and do critical repairs for low-wealth homeowners. In Middletown, we have only built new homes,” Smith said.