Since forming in 1994, Habitat for Humanity of Washington County has built five houses. This year, working with various sponsors, the organization will begin construction on four more.
The other projects include:
- Garlinger Avenue. A three-bedroom, single-family ranch-style house will be built behind the city's public works complex by more than 50 current and retired city employees who have volunteered for the project.
The city donated the property to Habitat for the project. A March 7 ground-breaking ceremony has been scheduled, with construction to be finished by mid-summer.
- A house sponsored by Congress. It will be one of 435 houses sponsored by Congress - one in each district.
Habitat officials have not selected a family or a site, although the organization owns land on Jonathan Street and North Avenue.
Volunteers will begin construction in June and finish by the end of the year, officials said.
- A house sponsored by Oprah Winfrey. The television talk show host has pledged to lend her name to a Habitat house in each of the markets in which her show is broadcast.
Local officials said they have identified two possible sites for the house, which they hope to complete by October.
- A house sponsored by American Trust Bank will be one of seven built by the bank's parent company, Keystone Financial Trust.
Bank officials hope to select a site and begin construction in September, with completion in spring 1999.
Habitat for Humanity accepts applicants based on need and ability to pay the mortgage.
Recipients must put in 500 hours building their houses and other Habitat homes. They also must pay off a no-interest loan on the house.
Jane Collis, 43, said her family pays $474 per month for the three-bedroom apartment on East Franklin Street.
The mortgage on the Habitat home will be between $200 to $375, Collis said.
The Collis family learned about Habitat for Humanity from Roger Collis' uncle, John Russell Whittington.
A retired electrician from Shepherdstown, W.Va., Whittington said he has helped wire five Habitat homes in West Virginia.
U.S. Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett, R-Md., who said he will help build the Congress-sponsored house this summer, pointed to Hagerstown's low home-ownership rate.
"We have a big challenge in Hagerstown," he said. " This has been a renting community. We need to convert this into a home-ownership community."