Eight come home for the holidays ANNE ARUNDEL NEWS

December 03, 1992|By Angela Gambill | Angela Gambill,Staff Writer

There's a holiday wreath on Edith Alston's door, and for the first time in decades, her home is warm.

For Mrs. Alston, central heating and running water are the biggest blessings of this holiday season -- courtesy of Habitat for Humanity.

"I hadn't ever dreamed I'd have this much comfort," said the Severna Park resident, who moved into a Habitat-built house in November. "Those old floors was terrible cold. It sure does feel different."

At 78, Mrs. Alston was a widow providing for eight people in a house that reeked of rot, with earth showing through the floorboards and no heating or plumbing.

Habitat razed Mrs. Alston's former dwelling last week, shortly after she moved into the new house.

The handsome, six-bedroom structure sits on Mrs. Alston's prop

erty on South Jennings Road. Other than a few trees, there's nothing left to remind her of the hovel that she, her adult daughter and six grandchildren once called home.

Mrs. Alston had worked all her life, cleaning houses and taking care of elderly people until she had to stop two years ago because of ill health. Mrs. Alston's dream of happy retirement would have remained illusory without Habitat for Humanity. Habitat, the Christian organization that builds homes for people living in substandard housing, heard about the Alstons and approved them for a new house.

Habitat concluded the house was beyond repair and needed to be demolished. The real estate division of the Maryland Aviation Administration donated a house that had been sitting in the Baltimore-Washington International Airport noise zone.

Habitat built a foundation, complete with three bedrooms and a full bath, then lowered the donated modular home onto the property and renovated it to add extra bedrooms.

"It was like new construction, like building another home altogether," said Audrey Spolarich, publicity chairwoman for Arundel Habitat.

Families who buy a Habitat home must put in 500 hours of "sweat equity," helping build their house or other Habitat houses. The family pays no interest, and the house is sold for exactly as much as it costs Habitat to build it. The Alston project cost approximately $30,000, Ms. Spolarich said.

The Alstons have already paid off their time working to finish the home, Ms. Spolarich said. Mrs. Alston's adult daughter Sheila is making the monthly payments.

"It's all so nice," said Mrs. Alston, admiring the gray-painted home with its maroon trim. "I'll be 79 in January, and now I feel like I can relax and be old."

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