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Groundbreaking ceremony for Lancaster Habitat’s Elizabethtown Home Build

Sep 17th, 2015 | By | Category: Features, Lead Article

This is the first in a series of reports chronicling the progress of the Lancaster Habitat’s Elizabethtown Home Build.

At the unmistakable sound of shovels hitting dirt, guests attending Lancaster Area Habitat for Humanity’s Groundbreaking Ceremony at 50 East Washington Street on Tuesday, September 15 applauded the official launch of the organization’s Elizabethtown Home Build.

The four shiny gold shovels that upturned earth on the empty lot were a ceremonial nod to the start of construction of an energy-efficient, single-family home for a family in need. New and longtime neighbors, Borough officials, community leaders and volunteers gathered at the build site to celebrate and learn more about the future residence.

“The show of support from the community has been tremendous,” says Stacie Reidenbaugh, executive director of Lancaster Habitat. “This is a community-based build. We wouldn’t be here without the participation and support from those who live and work in Elizabethtown.”

Lancaster Habitat is conducting a search for a family who will purchase the three-bedroom home. A selection committee, comprised entirely of Habitat volunteers, looks for candidates who live or work in the area, are able to manage the maintenance and responsibilities that come with homeownership and have a need for decent housing. Their income must fall between $28,000 and $56,000 a year.

Once selected, the future residents of 50 East Washington Street will contribute 500 hours of sweat equity, which includes not just helping to build their home, but also attending financial literacy and home maintenance classes, as well as participating in a mentorship program. As Reidenbaugh explains, the willingness to work towards homeownership, and the knowledge that comes with it, all helps to build self-sufficiency.

“We want families to have a successful future in homeownership,” she says. “The program demands a lot of time from the homebuyer, but it’s designed to give them the tools they’ll need to make informed decisions about their home—everything from budgeting to whether or not they need to call a plumber.”

The Habitat home will be financed to the buyers affordably at cost and through a zero percent interest mortgage. Volunteer labor helps to keep construction expenses low. The Elizabethtown home will be sold at the appraised value—in this case, $130,000—to positively impact the neighborhood’s home values.

Over the past 20 years, Lancaster Habitat has successfully increased home values in every new construction build that the organization has conducted.

Since its beginning in 1986, Lancaster has worked with 226 families throughout Lancaster County, including Elizabethtown. Ninety percent of Habitat families in Lancaster County still live in the home they purchased. In addition to homeownership, the nonprofit also offers a repair program and is currently accepting applications for minor home repairs in the Elizabethtown area.

In addition to the Borough, Lancaster Habitat is partnering with the following local organizations: Habitat for Humanity chapters at Elizabethtown College & High School; Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church; and Elizabethtown American Legion Post 329.

Those interested in volunteering or supporting the Elizabethtown Home Build can contact the Lancaster Habitat office at 717-392-8836 or visit to learn more.

Photo caption: From left to right are Mayor Chuck Mummert; Paul Rettew, Elizabethtown American Legion Post 329; Dr. Paul Grenko, Elizabethtown Area School District board member; Stacie Reidenbaugh, Lancaster Habitat Executive Director; Charlie Yohe, YOHE Architecture + Design and Lancaster Habitat Board Vice President.


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