Businesses Step Up to Support Affordable Housing

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By Beth Russo

“Giving is not just about making a donation. It is about making a difference.” ~ Kathy Calvin

We love working with our business community. Seeing our local businesses – both the large ones with multiple worldwide locations and the small ones located in downtown Asheville– step up to be part of the housing solution in our community brings us great joy.

Local businesses know that our entire community is stronger when residents – and employees – have decent and affordable housing. We see this throughout the year at Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity, but never more so than when building the Business Bungalow house.

Our 5th Business Bungalow, built in partnership with our local businesses, is currently under construction in our Candler community, Curry Court. The future homeowner, Belinda, will be unlocking her front door before summer begins.

Belinda has worked for Mission Hospital since 1999, and has been raising her son in a 1-bedroom apartment as a single mother. Like many people in our community, she got creative and Belinda turned a converted carport into a makeshift second bedroom, using a sheet for a door. This apartment had one other undesirable feature –a $400 plus heating cost during the winter months.

A sheet is not a door, and Belinda needs a permanently affordable option. She’s grateful to the businesses who agree – and are investing in her future home through sponsorships.

Our business community sees the benefits of providing funds – and volunteers – to support this work. Companies use this partnership to create meaningful employee engagement, to get team members to know each other outside of the office – and to be part of the larger community effort addressing a real local problem.

The financial support that local businesses provide – whether as a Housing Champion, Blueprint Sponsor or at a higher level – helps make Habitat homes affordable. Every dollar adds up to an affordable Green Built home that Belinda will purchase, with a monthly mortgage (and energy cost), that fits her budget. Asheville Habitat is proud to collaborate with our business community to make affordable homeownership within reach for more local families.

If you are interested in joining this diverse group of businesses, please contact me (Beth Russo) at brusso@ashevillehabitat.org for more information. Thank you!

New Partnership to Meet Senior Housing Needs

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Though older adults (age 55+) comprise 20% of Buncombe County’s population, they have limited access to affordable housing options designed to meet their needs. Coordinator for Buncombe County Aging Plan Alison H. Climo shared, “Neither the current housing stock nor the booming development of new housing matches the expressed desire among older and aging residents to age in place. Buncombe County needs housing options that are affordable but also accessible to enable people of all ages, and all people as they age, to remain in the home of their choice.”

To that end, in the first phase of construction at its upcoming New Heights neighborhood (off of Old Haywood Road), Habitat will build 8 single-level townhomes specifically for aging adults, thanks to generous support from local retirement community, Deerfield. Funding from Deerfield and its newly formed Charitable Foundation includes a Full House Sponsorship ($55,000) on each of the 8 units, as well as $50,000 to research and develop senior-oriented house designs, financing options and HOA management.

“The ability to age with safety and dignity and to live in an age-friendly community shouldn’t be an option reserved for the wealthy. Everyone deserves to live in a stable, affordable home – in all stages of life. We are incredible grateful for Deerfield’s partnership in this important work of ensuring more of our aging neighbors have a safe, affordable home,” said Andy Barnett, Asheville Habitat’s Executive Director.

Specifically designed for and sold to qualified older adults, Habitat’s senior housing will include universal design elements such as:

  • An at-grade or ramped entrance to the main floor or the capability to easily install a ramp
  • Entry doorways and passageways at least 36″ wide
  • A bathroom that will accommodate a wheelchair in a 365-degree circle
  • One-level living that includes a full bath, kitchen, laundry, living space and 1+ bedroom
  • Additional occupant-specific accommodations

 

Site of New Heights as of Dec. 2019.

Like all Habitat homeowners, senior homebuyers will repay an affordable mortgage. To help identify potential homebuyers, Asheville Habitat will leverage existing relationships with Council of Aging, Land of Sky Regional Council and other agencies.

“We are so glad to be able to support affordable housing for seniors in Buncombe County. Deerfield residents have communicated their passion and support for Habitat in such practical ways over the years – consistent volunteerism and generous donations! We listened and are affirming their commitment to Asheville Habitat by investing nearly half a million dollars in the organization’s good work,” remarked Michelle Wooley, Director of Philanthropy at Deerfield.

To learn more about Habitat homeownership (senior housing or traditional single-family and townhome models) here or call 828.210.9362. Information sessions are held multiple times each month and the schedule of upcoming dates can be found on the website.

The Service Experience – Thus Far

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This reflection was written by AmeriCorps Member Thomas Brennan. He works on Asheville Habitat’s New Home Construction team.

“This first quarter has been an amazing experience for me as I worked on all of the houses in our Candler neighborhood (Curry Court), which includes 4 single homes and 8 townhomes. In these past few months I started learning all of the construction skills I want to learn and use as I develop my career – including wall framing, stucco, flooring, painting, roof installation, insulation and more.

I have made more 80-year old friends than I ever would have thought! And I have worked with, and learned about, some of the amazing future homeowners as they slowly picked away at their “sweat equity” hours.

My time so far has been meaningful to me in a few ways, the first being it has been extremely beneficial in helping me start to understand what type of field I may want to go into. One of the reasons I wanted to take on this experience was to see if I enjoyed doing construction and to see how the whole project was run. I have learned so much, and I have also gathered priceless tips, stories, and advice from my many volunteer friends.

The second reason is that I have learned so much about affordable housing and our community. I was not aware of the lack of affordable housing and the unfortunate reasons behind it. This new knowledge has pushed me to further help our future homeowners, and made me start thinking about ways to address the problem and consider alternative solutions. As I drive around and explore new areas I am now always considering prices of land/buildings and what could be turned into housing alternatives.

The third reason my service so far has been meaningful, is hearing how thankful the future homeowners are, and how their lives will be changed. What they may not realize is I am just as thankful for them and their stories. They will continue to stay with me and influence my life as well.”

Want to hear from other AmeriCorps members who have worked with us in the past? Watch this video.

 

A Daily Exercise of Gratitude and Generosity

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By Zoe Trout

Beasley Family

The Beasley Family

Sarah and Andrew Beasley are always looking for ways for their children, age four and nine, to be more involved in giving back to their community. Like many parents, they want their children to be generous and kind, good citizens of the community. However, with limited options for children to volunteer in our area, they have struggled to find meaningful ways for their kids to give back. A way that Asheville Habitat involves kids in its work and mission is through a calendar activity called A Month for Habitat for Humanity. child receives a cardboard house bank and a calendar and are asked to follow the daily activities. The calendar has a different activity each day such as, “For each room in your house, deposit 10 cents… Add 5 cents per window in your house…. If you have a garage door opener, deposit 35 cents.” The activities require the participant to observe the house they live in and recognize and appreciate how much they haveand it offers them a way to give back.  

The Beasley children received the house banks one Sunday from their church. They attend Grace Episcopal Church, a longtime partner in the Episcopal House XIII. The Episcopal House is built every other year and is sponsored by Buncombe County Episcopal Churches and the Episcopal Diocese of WNC. Churches provide funding and volunteer on the construction site to build a house, which is then sold to a qualified homebuyer. 

The Beasley family enjoyed spending the next month counting their blessing, and filling their banks with money to donate to Asheville Habitat. Sarah told us, “Not only did this activity involve our whole family counting light fixtures and air vents, but it also involved a great reallife math problem for my son (who loves math) to add items and convert it to decimals.” The reallife math really engaged his attention, she added. According to Sarah, it was so magical to have conversations about housing and gratitude everyday with her children. “My fouryear old daughter asked what we were going to give to our house each morning after breakfast.”  

To learn more about A Month for Habitat for Humanity or to get your own calendars and banks, please contact Zoe at ztrout@ashevillehabitat.org. Thank you! 

Click here to see the calendar.

 

 

 

Innovative Solution to Community Need

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Members of PODER EMMA and staff from Asheville Habitat’s Home Repair team came together to protect manufactured home residents and build community by having a community safety day to install new door security plates and solar-powered, motion-activated lighting.

An 828 Where Everyone Can Afford a Home

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By Beth Russo

Living in the 828 is great! Whether you’ve been here for generations, or just got here as quickly as you could, the Western NC area – particularly Asheville – is a warm, welcoming place with great places to eat, drink, recreate, and relax.

Asheville also has a heart of gold when it comes to supporting the causes that make our community great. At Asheville Habitat for Humanity, we’re grateful to this group of businesses who offered their support of our first-ever #build828 day! Each business donated a portion of sales to the Business Bungalow House on August 28th (828 day).

828 Hats | Asheville Rooftop Bar Tours | Biscuit Head | Dynamite Roasting Co. | Ginger’s Revenge
| Maggie B’s Wine & Specialty Store | Sawhorse Restaurant | Still Point Wellness | Summit Coffee | The Hop Ice Cream Café and the Hop West | UpCountry Brewing

New Morning Gallery 4.24.19 001

Blueprint Sponsor New Morning Gallery in front of the 4th Business Bungalow House in Curry Court.

We are so glad for the partnership of these local businesses. If you patronize them, please say thank you!

We’d also like to give a great big shout out to the good folks at Asheville Brewing Company. During the month of August, they showed two short videos for us – one pointing people to our new ReStore in Weaverville and the other educating people about our monthly giving program, #build828.

While the local community was pouring love and support into #build828 day and the 5th Business Bungalow House, another collection of businesses have been pledging support and helping us build out at the jobsite. The financial support that local businesses provide – whether as a Housing Champion, Blueprint Sponsor or at a higher level – helps make affordable homeownership possible. Every dollar adds up to an affordable Green Built home that another local family or individual can purchase.

Finley Family

Future homeowner of Business Bungalow House #5, Belinda Finley, a mother and systems courier at Mission Hospital, is looking forward to paying an affordable mortgage rather than costly rent– and saying goodbye to $400/month heating bills. Habitat homes are certified energy-efficient with heating/cooling costs not exceeding $35/month. Read more about Belinda here.

Local businesses know that our entire community is stronger when residents – and employees – have decent and affordable housing. We love the 828, and the people and businesses who make it a great place for EVERYONE to live.

To learn more about joining our monthly giving club, #build828 – contact Zoe Trout at ztrout@ashevillehabitat.org. If you have a business and would like to learn more about sponsorship and Business Bungalow House #5, please contact Beth Russo at brusso@ashevillehabitat.org.

#build828

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Become a member of #build828, a monthly giving club, to support Asheville Habitat’s work of building and repairing affordable housing in Buncombe County.

Got $10? Consider a monthly donation.

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by Greta Bush

Do you ever look at your credit card bill and wonder how it got to be so high? You didn’t make any major purchases. Then you look closely…$10 spent on a whim here, $6 spent there…it adds up! I, for one, can’t be trusted to walk into Target without a strict list or my husband holding onto my hand. (I kid! Sort of…) Everything is so pretty…so innovative…so alluring. And priced at that sweet spot! Meanwhile, I get to the checkout and immediately regret my life choices.

Think about how easily you spend $10 a month on consumer products without even realizing it. Now, consider making an intentional choice to make a recurring donation of $10 a month to Habitat! Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity builds affordable, energy-efficient homes and sells them to qualified buyers at no-profit. A monthly donation to Habitat’s #build828 sustained giving club will help Habitat raise money for this cause.

We’re all guilty of blowing cash from time to time. Here are some examples of how easily that money slips from our wallets…but would be put to better use supporting Asheville Habitat:

  1. Target

Let’s get real. Who only spends $10 on a Target run? Help build a house rather than filling yours with stuff from the Dollar Spot.

  1. Starbucks

$10 = 2 venti caramel macchiatos. Coffee tastes sweeter made in your own home—donate your money to Habitat to help keep housing affordable!

  1. Netflix

$10 is the cost of a monthly subscription. Rather than watching a family on reality TV, help change a real family’s future with a monthly donation to Habitat for Humanity.

Speaking of Netflix…

  1. T-mobile

Your Netflix subscription is included if you have T-mobile…so you’ve got an EXTRA $10 a month! Why not donate that money to a good cause?

  1. Spotify

$10 is the cost of a monthly subscription. Create a new soundtrack filled with the sound of kids playing safely outside in their Habitat neighborhood.

If this is ringing even a little bit true for you, click the button. Set it and forget it. #build828 is the kind of recurring spending we can all get behind!

 

What One Asheville Woman is doing About Gentrification

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By Greta Bush

As Asheville continues to land on national “Best of” lists, it is experiencing tremendous growth, and with that comes gentrification. In this article, we focus on why gentrification can be a problem and how one young woman is making an effort to prevent it.

 

Kate Rasche moved to Asheville seven years ago to start a new job, unaware that her move could be tied to the growing gentrification affecting the city. She quickly fell in love with Asheville’s eclectic culture and creative vibe. She is grateful to have bought her house in west Asheville in 2012, just before housing prices began recovering from the 2008 crash. Three years later, a short supply and an influx of growth led the city to announce it had an affordable housing crisis.

She feels lucky for her good timing and is now acutely aware that she has contributed to the housing shortage. Kate wanted to join the community, not change it. She never intended to drive up property values and push out lower earners!

Kate wanted to do something to counteract the rapid gentrification in Asheville, and that’s why she joined Asheville Habitat’s #build828 club. Donating a small amount every month is her way to support income diversity and prevent gentrification that pushes people out.

What is Gentrification?

Gentrification occurs when lower cost neighborhoods start to attract wealthier residents. As a result, this can drive up house prices and rents, and drive out long time, lower income residents such as local artists. Gentrification often has a larger impact on ethnic and racial minorities. It always changes the social character of a neighborhood.

The positive side of the process is that homeowners are invested in their neighborhoods. Therefore, they repair or rebuild homes that had been neglected or open businesses in areas that might not have had them.

Why Habitat, and Why #build828?

Kate recognizes that it’s the people who make Asheville the city that she loves. The artists, musicians, and wait staff in this foodie mecca add to the culture, but are often lower earners. Consequently, without supporting those who tend to earn less, the city’s character won’t be preserved. Homeownership is a key to housing stability, and for Kate, “is part of the American dream…having a piece of the world to call your own.”

Originally from Knoxville, TN, Kate had previous experience with Habitat for Humanity in high school. She volunteered with Habitat through a school club and even took a trip to Americus, GA with the group. That’s where she learned about Habitat’s roots. Kate knew Habitat provided stable housing for people with low incomes, and she trusted the organization.

A few months ago, a quick Google search led her to Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity’s #build828 club. It’s a sustained giving club whose members make regular monthly donations. #build828 is a way to answer the affordable housing need and members enjoy benefits like an annual 40% off coupon to the Habitat ReStore! Kate decided that joining could be a way of “shoring up the community that she is a part of.”

Kate’s reasons for joining #build828 made sense:

  • From her administrative work experience, Kate understands the value of regular contributions. It helps any organization to plan ahead and keep their fundraising goals on track.
  • Kate didn’t have a big chunk of money to make a one-time donation. Signing up to make small monthly donations could really make a difference for Habitat and would better fit her situation.
  • She knew that if she were to buy or rent property now, her monthly payments would be much higher. So she felt a call to donate some of the money she is able to save every month to #build828. It’s her way to help others afford homeownership and combat the effects of gentrification.

Habitat for Humanity’s Role

Habitat for Humanity builds and repairs homes—so why is that work not contributing to gentrification? First, Habitat repairs homes so that lower-income residents can stay in their home even as the costs of homeownership rise. Second, Habitat builds affordable new homes in partnership with low-income qualifying buyers so that working class folks can achieve homeownership. Often, the cost of an Asheville Habitat mortgage is less than what the buyer had previously been paying in rent.

Habitat homeowners are artists, bus drivers, food service employees, social workers, healthcare staff, musicians, and more. They contribute to the heart and soul of Asheville’s creative and welcoming vibe. If you’re interested in supporting Habitat’s work and helping more of our neighbors build better futures in the foundation of stable, affordable housing, consider joining the #build828 movement.

Why does Kate think gentrification is a problem?

  • She loves the character of her neighborhood, where an artist lives across the street from her and the creativity in West Asheville is palpable at nearly every turn.
  • She’s worried that rising rents and home costs will force creatives to be unable to live here for much longer. While their contributions to our city’s culture are rich, their work tends to bring in lower wages.
  • She knows this is already happening. Such is the case with “Abby the Spoon Lady” (real name Abby Roach) a downtown performer who declared at a June 2019 City Council meeting that Asheville’s growth is pushing out musicians and artists, including herself. Abby said this would be her last summer in Asheville.

Join the Movement!

If you’re looking for a way to counteract the effects of gentrification, consider joining Asheville Habitat’s #build828 movement! Even $10 a month, the cost of a Netflix subscription, makes a difference. And, the more people who join, the bigger the impact! Not able to give yet? Help us spread the word and consider sharing Kate’s story with a friend. Have your own story to tell? Let us know.