Shiloh: Let’s Build! Campaign Built More Than Houses

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This month, Asheville Habitat will complete the 10-home McKinley neighborhood off Taft Ave. in Shiloh, which also signifies the culmination of the three year Shiloh: Let’s Build! campaign. Houses built at McKinley (10), Creekside (4), and Caribou Corner (1) represent the 15 new homes that were part of the campaign. On the Home Repair side, we will come out ahead of the 30 project goal with 39 home repairs completed in Shiloh in the last three years!

Click here to see photos from the recent dedication of the last 3 homes in Shiloh (and one built in McDowell County).

We’d like to extend a big thanks to all the Shiloh: Let’s Build sponsors who supported this campaign to serve a minimum of 45 families in Shiloh through homeownership and home repair. Your support provided more individuals and families with the opportunity to build strength, stability and self-reliance on the foundation of a decent, affordable home.


Habitat has been active in the Shiloh community since the mid-1990’s when we built the Wilson Creek neighborhood of 32 houses. Since then, we have built new homes, repaired existing ones, and recently worked alongside the Shiloh Community Association towards the goals laid out in the Shiloh Community Plan 2025 approved by Asheville City Council in 2010. We proudly leveraged our skills and worked alongside others with different proficiencies to help collectively address needs that go beyond housing.

For example, Habitat built a storage shed and raised garden beds in the Shiloh Community Garden, helped bring electric service to the garden and pavilion, and donated a parcel of land adjacent to the garden. A Habitat volunteer constructed a Little Free Library for the garden using materials donated by Habitat and the initial collection of books came from the Habitat ReStore, among other sources.

Habitat also partnered with Estes Elementary School to build a storage closet, install floors, and paint walls in their new Community Resource Center. The Resource Center provides food and clothing support for families of children attending the school and works to connect families to other resources in the community. The school serves approximately 75% of elementary school-aged children who live in the Shiloh neighborhood.

Paul Reeves, Director of Construction Services for Asheville Habitat adds, “It is truly a pleasure for Habitat to be working in a community that has a clear vision for its future and residents who are organized, motivated and actively working toward increasing the quality of life for all of its community members. Shiloh has embraced our work in their community and sees us as a strong partner in providing affordable housing and home repair.”

 

 

Six More Families Are HOME

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The heat and threat of storms didn’t deter homeowners, sponsors, volunteers, staff and community well-wishers from welcoming six more families HOME. These six new houses, one of which is our 300th, are part of Habitat’s McKinley neighborhood off Taft Ave. in Shiloh. The homeowners completed hundreds of hours of sweat equity and homeownership education classes before purchasing their homes from Habitat. They will repay a 30 year, interest-free mortgage – payments that Habitat uses to build more houses. And their annual property tax payments will bolster the local tax base.

These homeowners are putting down roots in a community, in a neighborhood where everyone already knows each another. They took classes together and helped build each others’ homes. Now, they sit on their front porches, watch kids ride bikes in the safe cul-de-sac, and host family and friends for BBQs. And they can plan and save for the future because they know the rent won’t go up, the house won’t be sold, and the children won’t have to switch schools due to yet another unwelcome move. They are building strength, stability, and self-reliance on the foundation of a decent and affordable home. Thanks to all of you who provided your time, your voice, and/or your financial support!

To see photos from the event, please click here.

The homeowner families and sponsors are listed below:

The Collington family’s home – Sponsored by Eaton #9/Alice D. Hamling Foundation/Asheville Duathlon/Anonymous Foundation House and Blue Ridge X-Ray Company, Inc. (Adopt-a-Lot sponsor)

The Heatherly/Leach family’s home – Sponsored by W&S Charitable Foundation with proceeds from Warren Haynes Presents: The Christmas Jam and James Ferguson (Adopt-a-Lot Sponsor)

The Suber family’s home – Sponsored by W&S Charitable Foundation with proceeds from Warren Haynes Presents: The Christmas Jam and Virginia and Drew Litzenberger & Five Fingers Partnership (Adopt-a-Lot sponsors)

The Lucy family’s home – Our 300th house! Sponsored by Legacy Builder’s Society and Scott & Mary Gillam (Adopt-a-Lot sponsors)

The Fulga/Calburgan family’s home Sponsored by Land of the Sky Association of Relators House/Rusty Pulliam Foundation and Asheville Fence (Adopt-a-Lot sponsor)

The Knight family’s homeSponsored by Publix Super Market Charities House and Tom & Nancy Maher (Adopt-a-Lot sponsors)

More than new homes: Habitat’s Home Repair is changing lives.

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Stuck. In an unsafe home. Without resources to make simple things work, like a toilet, or to hire an electrician to repair faulty electrical outlets. After twenty seven years of wear and tear, and without the skills or financial resources to make necessary repairs, this is the situation in which former seamstress Geneva was living. It is not how her story of home began, nor is it where she expected it to lead. But sometimes you can’t anticipate what life has in store.

Mold permeated her grandson’s playroom, dangerous makeshift electrical work dangled by a cord, and there was no functional toilet. For years she lived with her situation, believing there was no other option. But taking in her six-year-old grandson Kaleel motivated her to seek help. That’s when she discovered Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity’s Home Repair program.

Volunteers help repair the playroom.

After her application was approved, our Home Repair team got to work, addressing the playroom first—a moldy converted garage. To remediate the moisture-induced mold problem, our team addressed drainage issues to divert water away from the house, pulled up the carpets, and removed and replaced the water-damaged sheetrock and framing. They installed new wall paneling and a new window and door. Growing Kaleel now enjoys a mold-free playroom. During the short time since the repairs were made, his asthma has improved!

Our crew also replaced one toilet and repaired another so that the family now has two working toilets. Several lights in this West Asheville house were not working and required improvements to the electrical system. The unsafe extension cords running throughout the house have been replaced and now light illuminates every room, safely.

Safety. Stability. Good health. It all starts at home. For nearly 35 years, Asheville Area Habitat has provided affordable homeownership opportunities to individuals and families through our new home program. But, for many people, the most affordable home is the one they already own. For the past six years, our Home Repair program has improved safety and accessibility for existing homeowners and their families. We’ve completed nearly 200 projects, and the majority of our Home Repair clients are elderly or disabled—some of the most vulnerable members of our community.

We repair and replace leaking roofs, update electrical and heating/cooling systems, add ramps and grab bars, and much more. Homeowners like Geneva pay only a fraction of the market cost of repairs, thanks to their sweat equity, our volunteers and affordable financing through Habitat.

Everyone deserves a decent place to live, and everyone can do something today to help make that possible for another family.

Geneva’s is just one of many stories of need in our community. Your donation can build a roll-in shower for a disabled vet who couldn’t bathe in his old claw foot tub. Or, it can install a new furnace for an elderly woman who has weathered the winters for years with dangerous kerosene heaters. These are real-life stories from Home Repair clients.

Your donation can change lives. Please make a gift today to help more families like Geneva’s have a safe place to live. 

New House, New Beginnings

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The nine year old girl, center of her mother’s world, is too young to fully comprehend what her new Habitat home means to her mom and to their family. But she sure is excited to decorate her room and play with friends in her new neighborhood!

Elizabeth, the young girl’s mom, credits her daughter for inspiring her to better her future, and her father for encouraging her in the right direction. With motivation and support, she enrolled at AB-Tech, become a CNA, and secured a good job with a local alcohol and drug treatment center. Her next goal was straightening out her credit and becoming a homeowner. Mission accomplished, as she just signed her mortgage documents and proudly accepted the keys to her new Habitat home!

“One day she will realize how strong she made her momma,” said Elizabeth while proudly showing photos of her daughter and son, and waiting to sign her closing documents.

“I’ve had to make some very difficult decisions in the last six or seven years. If I stayed with her dad, I was staying in an abusive situation. But if I left that would mean my daughter would grow up without a father.”

Ultimately, Elizabeth chose the latter and is overwhelmed by everything she has accomplished for herself and her family — by herself. She was overcome with emotion as she looked at the key in her hand and thought back to a time of hopelessness. Proud of her perseverance and excited about what the future holds Elizabeth headed to her new home where her friends and her father were waiting to help her unload a U-Haul truck and unpack a fresh start.

If you’d like to learn more about Habitat’s affordable homeownership program, click here.

Spring Break Builders

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By Sammie Smith, Hands and Feet of Asheville Intern

Every March, our construction site fills up with excited college students participating in their Alternative Spring Break. Collegiate Challenge – or as we affectionately call it, March Madness – brings students from schools all over the country to Asheville for a week of volunteering. This year, we hosted students from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Lesley University (Massachusetts) and Ramapo College (New Jersey). One of the highlights of these service trips is the Wednesday night dinner with a future Habitat homeowner.

The most recent dinner included volunteers from both Leslie and Ramapo. In addition to enjoying fellowship and a delicious meal (thanks to a Thrivent grant), the students reflected on the work they’ve done at the construction site and how it has impacted them. Kit, from Lesley University spoke about how amazing the construction supervisors are and how “they take the time to carefully teach us how to complete the tasks on the jobsite”. Ramapo student Carlie noted, “It was rewarding to see the progression throughout the day from just dirt and rocks to a clean, insulated crawl space.” She went on to talk about how important stable housing is for kids to excel in school. Another Ramapo student reflected on the comradery among future homeowners stating, “I’ve been amazed by the sense of community…Homeowners working on each other’s houses even before they move in. Every step is awesome!” After a few days of working on the construction site and in the ReStore, Shannon, from Lesley University shared “the more I learn about Habitat, the more I fall in love with the organization!”

Jeff Paul, Habitat’s Homeowner Counselor, explained to the students the comprehensive process that Habitat homeowners go through: from initial application, through sweat equity hours and homeownership education classes, to the final walk-through just after closing. He talked about the importance of a safe, decent, and stable place to call home and then introduced future homeowners Tim Bromely and his wife Jenny Giannetto and their three children. Tim talked about how excited their oldest son is to soon have his own room and what it will mean for their family to finally have stability. (They have moved 7 times in the last 9 years.) And he expressed deep gratitude to the students for their service with Habitat.

Thank you to all the Collegiate Challenge volunteers who dedicated their spring break to volunteering with Asheville Habitat! We are consistently impressed by these young adults who make service a priority in their lives and get involved in a hands on way, with causes that matter to them. When asked why she came to Asheville Habitat for spring break, Cheryl, a student from Ramapo College said, “Affordable housing is such a huge issue in the United States. If I can contribute in a small way, it’s worth it!”

To see photos, click these links: Ramapo, Lesley, and Southern Illinois.

 

Meaningful Mondays

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By Alex Cox

Saturday in the ReStore brings crowds of customers browsing the showroom for unique furniture, appliances, and other home goods. The donation drop-off lane is an equally bustling place. On Monday, after the excitement has settled, a group of core volunteers strive to set the pace for the week. Long-time volunteers (pictured above L to R) Angela Lepro, Resa Holt and Meredith Norwood, with their family-like bond, help get the ReStore started off right for the week.

“Saturday is a very busy day”, said Angela, a retired nurse. “So on Monday, there’s a lot of housekeeping to do, refilling the drawers, getting everything ready for the week ahead.”

Resa has been volunteering with the ReStore since 2008, but she was familiar with the ReStore well before that. She was a regular customer who visited the store frequently. “Five years previous to volunteering here I was a teacher. Every Friday, on my way home from work, I would stop and get my Habitat fix,” Resa shared. “I always had it in the back of my mind that when I retired, this was where I wanted to volunteer.”

Meredith has been volunteering with the ReStore for 5 years, and Angela for 13. When a group works together for that long, it’s easy to see how strong bonds can form. Angela believes there is a greater reason why they have all been working together for so long. “I think the longevity comes from not only believing in Habitat’s philosophy, but that we have become a family. When you’re working with each other every week, you miss that person if they don’t come in.”

Barbara Geiser, another core volunteer and retired realtor, says that having a bond with your co-volunteers is crucial to reaching the goals of the ReStore and of Habitat for Humanity. “There is an interesting blend of outward social caring and internal social camaraderie,” Barbara acknowledged. “Of course we all come for the building of homes, and meeting of partner families, which we get to do. That camaraderie, once it’s formed with your group, is what keeps everybody coming back.”

These core volunteers also believe in teamwork, and recognize that the ReStore depends on everyone working together. To keep the ReStore running like a well-oiled machine, it takes every person’s contribution. Whether behind the counter, unloading donations, or doing maintenance and housekeeping , every role matters when working together to reach a collective goal. “It’s all a team effort,” Meredith noted. “There’s no point in selling anything if there isn’t someone to get it out the door and into someone’s car. And then there are the folks that receive donations, price them, and put them on the floor. It takes a lot.”

We thank these core volunteers who come in each and every Monday to get the week started right. They inspire us not only with their consistent hard work, but also with showing us the importance of having a family in the work/volunteer place. Having a group you can depend on is important. Having one that you can confide in and make memories with is extra special. And it’s what makes Monday morning something to look forward to.

If you’re interested in meeting new people, making new friends and helping neighbors in need of decent, affordable housing, check out our volunteer opportunities.

Where Habitat Fits in the Movement for Racial Equity

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By Andy Barnett, Executive Director

Earlier this week, we observed the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday. The holiday provides an opportunity to reflect on the legacy of Dr. King and to recommit to a vision of equity for our neighbors who face barriers due to intentionally discriminatory policies and structures of power. Dr. King saw a great deal of progress toward racial equity in his lifetime and we have seen more in the years since his death. But much remains to be done to realize the dream of a nation where everyone has the chance to live up to their potential regardless of where they start from and the obstacles in their path. Continuing this work is our challenge today.

Homeownership Disparity; Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2011-2015 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates

One of the places where we haven’t seen progress toward racial equity, where, in fact we see a widening gap between whites and people of color is in household wealth. In 1963, the disparity in median family wealth was about $40,000; white households now have a median net worth $123,000 higher than African American families according to a report by the Urban Institute. This means that white families are much more able to weather financial hardships, take advantage of education and career opportunities, and participate in a virtuous cycle where the wealth attainment of one generation becomes the platform for the next. Families of color are much less likely to see these benefits.

A number of factors contribute to the widening gap in wealth including income, employment, family wealth, and education attainment. But, the largest single factor is homeownership—accounting for more than 25% of the disparity according to a Brandeis study.  White households are more likely to own homes. In Buncombe County, 72% of white households own their home while fewer than half of households of color are homeowners. This level of disparity in homeownership is consistent with national homeownership gap. Not only are households of color less likely to own homes, they also build equity more slowly (and lose it more quickly) than white households.

Home Ownership Loan Corporation “redlining” map of Asheville

This disparity is the result of intentional real estate and mortgage lending practices.  Beginning in the 1930’s, federal underwriting policy established lending risk based on geography.  Communities of color were identified as having a greater risk of default. As a result, these “redlined” areas were largely excluded from the post-war housing boom in housing development finance. Across the country new developments legally excluded Black and Latino buyers through restrictive covenants, and at the same time, neighborhoods of color declined due to lack of capital investment.

This pattern of lending created, in effect, two housing markets. One that rapidly appreciated in value and was restricted to whites, and another for people of color where values and conditions stagnated or declined. Overtime the deteriorating conditions in these disinvested neighborhoods “proved” that race-based lending practices were justified and these neighbors were blamed for the poor conditions rather than recognized as victims of discriminatory practices. Even after housing discrimination based on race was outlawed, “blight” and a “blame the victim” culture made it easy to justify redevelopment and displacement. Unfortunately, two generations of households have missed out on wealth building through a period of historic home value appreciation.

This is where Habitat’s work enters the story. We are a builder and a bank. Our programs simultaneously address geographic disinvestment and create a path to successful homeownership. Habitat develops housing in neighborhoods that other developers might reject, but where opportunities exist for a good quality of life for homeowners. Depending on the market, Habitat’s investment can boost a stagnating market or build long term economic integration in a “hot” market. By financing and assisting repairs for existing homeowners, Habitat preserves the housing stock and adds value to existing neighborhoods. Habitat lends to first time buyers and finances repairs for existing owners that other lenders have determined are too “risky”. Through careful underwriting, extensive education, a focus on partnership with the borrower, and a commitment to affordable mortgage terms, Habitat successfully extends homeownerships to households with incomes well below what it would take to qualify for a conventional mortgage. Since 2010, 45% of those new homeowners were households of color.

Habitat creates a way for households facing economic barriers to achieve homeownership and begin to close the wealth gap, but we can’t do it alone. To achieve equity in rates of homeownership nearly 3,000 additional households of color in Buncombe County will need the opportunity to become homeowners. To achieve this scale, we will need many more lenders to adopt policies that help households of color overcome historical barriers to mortgage loans. We need to grow housing and financial counseling opportunities to help aspiring homebuyers become “mortgage ready”. We need more affordable rental options and tenant advocacy so that renters have the stability needed to save and prepare for future ownership. Finally, we need home repair and foreclosure prevention assistance to help existing homeowners to remain at home. In short, it will take everyone committing to give our time, our financial support, and our voices to advance the dream of equality of opportunity for all our neighbors regardless of race.

P.S. – On MLK Day, a group of Habitat staff members and volunteers watched this 30 minute film together to gain a better understanding of the complex roots of today’s racial inequity in housing. I encourage you to make the time to watch it.

 

 

 

 

 

Everyone deserves an opportunity to build a better future.

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Last holiday season, Shawntale’s reasons to move were many: an indifferent landlord, rising rent, and too little space for an active toddler. But most of all, she wanted to own her home so she could give her son a more stable future. In Asheville’s escalating housing market, her dreams of finding homeownership through conventional methods were out of reach. So she applied and was accepted into Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity’s homeownership program.

Morning after early morning, she finished a night shift as a Certified Nursing Assistant and then worked side-by-side with Habitat volunteers to build her home and the homes of her neighbors—once working 28 hours straight!

But before her Habitat house in Shiloh was finished, and with little notice, her landlord sold the apartment she was renting. With nowhere to live, she and her son crowded in with family until the house was complete, knowing this would be the last time their lives would hang on the whims of a landlord.

Now Shawntale is a proud homeowner, paying an affordable mortgage. She found the stability she longed for with the support of many Asheville Area Habitat donors and volunteers.

Shawntale looks forward to raising her son in the neighborhood where she grew up and giving back to Asheville’s historic Shiloh community through its active neighborhood association.

With your gift this holiday season, you can help 14 more families build stable homes in Shiloh and make a lasting investment in the neighborhood’s vitality.

Everyone deserves an opportunity to build a better future. And everyone can do something to make that possible for another family.

From Bookstore to Boardroom: How One Volunteer Serves Habitat

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By Kristen Keefer

It was over twelve years ago that Cassie Dillon (above, R) began her service at the Asheville ReStore. At the time, she was traveling throughout the week for work but was still determined to find time to serve her community. She pursued a weekend opportunity with the ReStore and since then, has become a core volunteer in the bookstore. A book and music enthusiast herself, she puts care into connecting with shoppers who frequent the bookstore. Cassie plays an important part in ensuring that every ReStore shopper has a delightful experience, but this is not her only involvement with Habitat.

In 2014, Cassie joined the ReStore Committee and has been creatively collaborating with other committee members to keep the ReStore at its best since. She has also served on the Fund Development Committee for over a year, helping brainstorm ways to raise funds for Habitat’s building programs as well as special campaigns like Shiloh: Let’s Build!

Recently, she was asked to join the Board of Directors, which she says has already been a fascinating experience. Cassie says that becoming a member of the Board has furthered her understanding of Asheville Habitat in its entirety. She explained, “There is so much that goes into Habitat – mortgage lending, construction services, operating the ReStore, and ultimately serving the community.”

She also had a recent opportunity to experience a homeowner closing firsthand. She reminisced about the homeowner’s excitement and how impactful hearing “zero percent interest” was when reviewing and signing the mortgage documents. This is the moment that Cassie – and all Habitat volunteers, staff, and homeowners work together towards; the moment when a family achieves their dream of affordable homeownership.

Upholding Habitat’s mission is at the core of Cassie’s devotion to her to many roles within Habitat. She said, “I’d recommend volunteering here to anyone who has free time that wants to serve their community. Volunteering with Habitat is a worthy use of anyone’s time!”

With over a decade of service under her belt, Cassie Dillon’s contributions across so many areas of the organization have been greatly impactful and are deeply appreciated. Thank you Cassie, for your unwavering service to Asheville Area Habitat and your community!

Fellow North Carolinians need our help!

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Fayetteville Area Habitat for Humanity and its community of homeowners have suffered a terrible fate in the wake of Hurricane Matthew. Of Fayetteville Habitat’s 154 homes, 93 Habitat houses have been flooded extensively, and 66 may be complete losses. “There are powerful and heartbreaking stories of families swimming out of their homes to reach rescuers, lost possessions, and the loss of beloved family pets. Habitat homeowners work hard to pay their mortgages but it will be difficult, in some cases impossible, for most of them to pay both a mortgage and also rent a place to live,” stated a representative from Fayetteville Habitat. Please keep these families in your hearts and prayers and read below to see how you can help.

Make a donation to Hurricane Relief/Fayetteville Habitat
DonateJoin us to help Habitat neighbors in need! Asheville Area Habitat is donating to the hurricane relief efforts of Fayetteville Habitat for Humanity in honor of our Board of Directors. We invite you to do the same. Donate online and select Hurricane Relief/Fayetteville Habitat in Area of Support. Thank you!

“Round Up” at the ReStore registers
From November 1st through December 31st donations collected through the register Round Up program will be donated to Fayetteville Habitat for Humanity for hurricane relief efforts. For example, if your purchase totals $9.40, please round up to $10.00. Small amounts can really add up to make a big difference!

Go to Fayetteville to volunteer
Please clear your calendar and join one of our service trips, if you’re able. The work will be basic demo/muck/gut. No experience necessary. Transportation and lodging will be provided. Some meals may be provided but each volunteer should be ready to pay the majority of their food expenses.
Sunday, November 13 (noon departure) – Friday, November 18 (dinnertime return) 4 ½ work days
OR
Thursday, December 1 (noon departure) – Sunday, December 4 (dinnertime return) 2 ½ work days.
Please email Stephanie asap if you’d like to participate.

Thank you for helping our fellow North Carolinians in need!