UMBC students to renovate rowhouse

Habitat chapter receives two grants for its first project

September 29, 2001|By Laurie Willis | Laurie Willis,SUN STAFF

It took 10 years, but students at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County have finally become the official sponsors of a Habitat House.

They'll celebrate their sponsorship at 9 a.m. today in the 1400 block of Presstman St., where the four-bedroom rowhouse the students will renovate stands.

"I'm very excited," said Christina Bauer, 22, a junior political science major from Essex and president of UMBC's Habitat chapter, which has about 40 members. "Since I've been in the chapter we've always done a lot of fund-raisers trying really hard to raise the money."

During its 10-year history, UMBC Habitat volunteers have helped renovate or build houses in Sandtown-Winchester. And they have raised about $3,000 through bake sales and other efforts -- far short of the $20,000 it takes to sponsor a house, said chapter adviser Norma Green.

Chapter members learned they had received a $10,000 matching grant from Habitat for Humanity International in the spring. The grant was matched by Coca Cola during the summer, Green said.

"This will be our first UMBC-sponsored house," she said. "In the past, when we went down as volunteers, we'd help out with other collegiate houses, like Goucher College, the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins."

Patty Prasada-Rao, director of resource development for Sandtown Habitat for Humanity, said 162 houses have been built or renovated in Sandtown since 1989, when Habitat arrived in the impoverished West Baltimore neighborhood.

Habitat homeowners are given 20-year, interest-free loans, Prasada-Rao said. Of the Habitat homes that have been purchased in Sandtown-Winchester, none has been foreclosed, she said.

The family that will occupy the UMBC Habitat house hasn't been chosen. To qualify, their annual income must be between $8,000 and $16,000, Prasada-Rao said.

Bauer, Green and Charles Fey, UMBC vice president for student affairs, aren't concerned about who will purchase the house. They're just thankful to be able to renovate it.

"A lot of students really have been wanting to get more involved in community service, and this is an excellent way to do so," Bauer said. About 700 UMBC students will labor on the house, which should be completed in May. "And it's a lot of fun. It's addictive," Bauer said.

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