LAKE GEORGE — Habitat for Humanity did not have to look far to find the location for its second house in Lake George.
The organization has laid the foundation for a new house at 87 Birch Ave. —right next to one Habitat built about 25 years ago.
“That was one of our first houses we ever built,” said Adam Feldman, executive director of Habitat for Humanity for Northern Saratoga, Warren and Washington Counties, at a ceremonial groundbreaking on Wednesday.
This will be the 29th home Habitat has built in this region. The organization intends to shorten its timetable over the next few years to go from the one per year it builds now to its goal of five houses annually. Habitat has a new partnership with Glens Falls National Bank, which will provide financing for projects in the three counties of the service area.
“Next year, the goal is to build two houses,” Feldman said.
The target for 2020 is three houses, then five in 2021. The long-range goal is to build two houses in every county every year, he said.
Habitat for Humanity is also working on a major project to partner with Whitehall to rebuild houses there.
Richard Ferguson, community development officer for Glens Falls National Bank, said in his three decades in banking, he has learned that helping a community grow is all about building relationships. As the community goes, so goes the bank and vice versa, he said.
Ferguson said he cannot wait to work with Feldman and volunteers to build the next house and the next one after that.
The house on Birch Avenue should be completed in four or five months, Feldman said.
“The goal is to have the family in for the holidays — Thanksgiving if possible, Christmas at the latest,” he said.
Malta Development is the contractor for the project. Corporate sponsors are BD (formerly named Bard) and Fastrac Cafe.
“We are looking for more sponsors. It takes a lot to pull this off,” Feldman said.
A family has not been selected at this time, he added.
The completed house on Birch Avenue will likely be appraised for about $175,000, Feldman said. The owners will take out a subsidized mortgage with payments that will never be higher than 30 percent of their monthly household income.
The families are selected based upon a variety of criteria, including if they are living in dilapidated or cramped housing. Owners are required to put in 500 hours of “sweat equity.” Feldman said that number is set high by design to get the community involved in the process. It would be too much for a family to accomplish on its own.
Michael Bittel, president and chief executive officer of the Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce, said projects like these are successful because of the support of people in the community.
“It’s all about you,” he said.
Elizabeth Little, R-Queensbury, said Habitat for Humanity is making the dream of home ownership a reality for people who otherwise might not find it affordable.
Homes make children feel secure and build their self-esteem, she said.
“A nice house is more than a roof over your head,” she said.
Little led the formation of the Adirondack Community Housing Trust, which reduces the cost of home purchases for families making up to 120 percent of the median income. Also, future sales of the homes are controlled by the trust, so they remain affordable.
Little said she also has sponsored a bill in the Legislature that would allow Habitat for Humanity homes to be assessed without including the value of the property they are sitting on.