Tag Archive for: Affordable Homeownership

Habitat receives transformational gift from MacKenzie Scott

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Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity, Habitat for Humanity International and 83 Habitat affiliates receive transformational $436M gift from MacKenzie Scott

Asheville Habitat will use gift to address affordable housing shortage in Buncombe and Madison Counties

ASHEVILLE, NC (March 22, 2022) — Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity, along with Habitat for Humanity International and 83 U.S. Habitat affiliate organizations, recently received $436 million in unrestricted giving from American author and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. [Of that, Asheville Habitat received $5M.] This transformational donation will substantially help further Habitat’s vision of a world where everyone has equitable access to a safe, decent and affordable place to call home.

“We are incredibly grateful and honored to receive this gift. It comes at an opportune time as we are finalizing our ambitious five-year strategic plan that will keep us on track to realize our current 10-year vision of serving another 1,000 families by 2028,” shared Andy Barnett, Executive Director of Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity.

Over the next 3-5 years, Asheville Habitat will use the $5 million donation to ramp up its home repair program, accelerate its new home construction program in Buncombe County, expand services to Madison County, and secure land to build future Habitat neighborhoods.

Affordable housing is needed more than ever before. Housing costs far outweigh local salaries and nearly half of all households in Buncombe County (48.5 percent) are “cost-burdened,” meaning that they pay more than 30 percent of income toward housing. Nearly two in five households in Buncombe are “severely” cost-burdened, paying half of more of all income to meet housing costs. “Receiving these generous and unrestricted funds allows us to scale up our work and meet more of the growing needs of our region,” added Barnett.

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About Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity
Founded in 1983, Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity was the first Habitat affiliate in North Carolina. Through Habitat homeownership and home repair programs, 2,000 adults and children in Buncombe County have achieved the strength, stability and self-reliance they need to build a better future. A decent place to call home and an affordable mortgage enables Habitat homeowners to save more, invest in education, pursue opportunities and have greater financial stability. Learn more about Asheville Area Habitat, a Charity Navigator 4-star non-profit, and how you can get involved at ashevillehabitat.org.

About Habitat for Humanity International
Driven by the vision that everyone needs a decent place to live, Habitat for Humanity found its earliest inspirations as a grassroots movement on an interracial community farm in south Georgia. Since its founding in 1976, the Christian housing organization has grown to become a leading global nonprofit working in local communities across all 50 states in the U.S. and in more than 70 countries. Families and individuals in need of a hand up partner with Habitat for Humanity to build or improve a place they can call home. Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage. Through financial support, volunteering or adding a voice to support affordable housing, everyone can help families achieve the strength, stability and self-reliance they need to build better lives for themselves. Through shelter, we empower. To learn more, visit habitat.org.

 

 

 

 

First Two Aging in Place Homebuyers Move HOME

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Thanks to a partnership with Deerfield, 8 single-level Aging in Place (AiP) townhomes specifically designed for low-income aging adults are being built in Asheville Habitat’s New Heights neighborhood– and the first two buyers recently moved in.  

Lumber prices adds to challenge of building affordable housing

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Skyrocketing building material prices, supply chain issues, and a building boom has created a challenging environment in which to build affordable housing. Unlike other builders, Asheville Habitat can’t pass on to homebuyers increased costs.

Women Build During a Pandemic

Working on the 15th Woman Build house has been a very different experience. When the house was started no volunteers were working due to Covid.  By the time core volunteers were brought in most of the framing and roof work had been done. I remember the first day I returned to work and Emily asked me if I was OK with climbing in the rafters to do some bracing. Let’s see, I thought. I haven’t swung a hammer or climbed up in the rafters in many months. Plus seeing where to hammer or place my feet with a mask on and fogged up glasses was a challenge. But sure, why not? It took some time to get the hang of it but I did get some work done and didn’t plummet to the floor which I considered to be a good day.

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Core volunteer and WOMbat Julie White taking down scaffolding at New Heights Wednesday February 17.

 

Over the past few months I have had the pleasure of doing a variety of jobs on this house. Insulation was put in during warmer days. The work itself isn’t bad. However, when dealing with  insulation you either have to wear a protective suit to keep the insulation off your skin (which is a sweaty mess on a hot day) or take a cold shower upon

Wb15 2.17.21

Women Build House #15 as of February 17, 2021

arrival at home to keep the insulation on your skin out of your pores. I haven’t decided which is the better (or worse) way to go.

 

I had one of my most successful experiences with stucco while working with fellow WOMBAT Terri Harris and our wonderful Americorps workers. We were able to get the front of the house and porch pillars done so that work could begin on the porch.

Other jobs I have done include flooring installation, painting, and work on the porch and porch roof. Of course there was also the obligatory building of scaffolding involved with the porch work. Some of these jobs are ones that I don’t typically enjoy. However, I was glad to be back on the job site working on the Woman Build House and didn’t mind the work I was doing.

There is still plenty of work to be done to finish the house before Ikia’s closing date in April. Good progress is being made towards this end. The work that has been done by the construction staff and core volunteers is amazing, especially considering the Covid precautions we take and the wonderful winter weather we have been experiencing. It is always an honor to work on the Woman Build House. I wish all the best to Ikia and her family as they live in their new home.

 

Julie White

Head WOMBAT and Wednesday Core Volunteer

After All These Years

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Susan Diehn Old Store Original

Volunteer Susan Diehn in the Biltmore Ave. store

By Klesa Ausherman

Susan Diehn walked into her first volunteer shift with the Asheville Habitat Home Store on a Monday in 1994. She had inquired about the volunteer opportunity after a friend who knew of Susan’s love for vintage items recommended it to her. Howard Trimble, the Home Store Manager at the time, quickly invited Susan to join the volunteer team. It wasn’t long after she started that the Tuesday Volunteer Manager position became open, and Susan stepped up to the job. “I was the first woman manager,” Susan remembers, “all the rest were retired men.” Of course, the dynamic has since changed, and more and more women have joined Susan in volunteering throughout the ReStore.

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Susan, second from R, alongside fellow volunteers in the Meadow Rd. store

Twenty six years later, Susan can still be found at the upper register on Tuesdays, chatting with regular customers and welcoming new customers to the store. “My tenure with Habitat has been twenty six years of amazing experiences. Knowing our repeat customers and getting to know customers who are new to our store is always fun for me. I always tell them it is the best place in town to shop!” And customers equally enjoy chatting with Susan and learning from her depth of knowledge on all things ReStore.

As much as Susan enjoys interacting with customers, it’s someone else who keeps her commitment to the ReStore strong. “The reason I keep coming every week is knowing that maybe I am helping a family have a positive new beginning. I love working with the homeowner families, getting to know them and seeing the excitement and pride they have about building and owning a home for their family. That experience has been such a joy to me over the years. Times have changed, for sure, but the mission is still the same. Even in these times of the pandemic, it has truly been a pleasure for me to be  a part of this fabulous organization.”

And of course Susan isn’t alone in this sentiment, and she recognizes the like minds around her. “The whole atmosphere of the ReStore is positive and the staff and volunteers are here because they want to be a part of something positive for our community. Plus, the staff are very supportive of the volunteers.” Susan fondly recalls the leaders she has served with over the years, many of whom have since retired. The man behind it all, Lew Kraus, left quite an impression on Susan. “I have always admired Lew Kraus for having the vision to start this wonderful piece of Habitat for Humanity in our area. He was able to bring the vision of a thrift store to benefit the community and build affordable homes for families living in substandard housing, to self-sufficient reality. Through his efforts the tiny store downtown evolved into the large warehouse we are working from now.”

Jay Sloan, ReStore Manager from 1998 to 2014 she says, “He was like my brother. He treated everyone fairly. He brought a new energy to the operation and really made the store grow. He was instrumental in getting the big warehouse up and going. It was a sad time for the staff and volunteers when he made the decision to retire. He surely is missed.”

It would be impossible to reflect back on 26 years of service with the Habitat ReStore and not recall some of the amazing donations that have come in. Susan remembers, “The wonderful and unusual things that have come through our store from our fabulous donors, always surprise me. We’ve had cut gemstones, a baby elephant made of leather, and the horse and buggy. All were quite a spectacle, and sold quickly.” Though Susan didn’t take the horse and buggy home, she does recall the many items that have come home with her over the years. “I have purchased so many wonderful things, I can’t even think of the best. I’ve purchased beds, desks, many chairs, tables, couches, fabrics, dishware, artwork, gemstones, and rugs.”  She’s noticed, “Asheville locals and businesses have become very interested and generous with their donations. Our customers can’t wait to find a treasure for their homes.”

In a time when over 20% of millennials have changed jobs in the past year, Susan Diehn’s  twenty six years of volunteer service with Habitat for Humanity stands out as rare. If anything, after all these years, her engagement is only increasing. Susan even capped her quarter century of service with a mission trip to Ethiopia with Asheville Habitat earlier this year. And with her easy to approach attitude, constant smile, and consistent humility, she certainly sets a high bar.  Asheville Habitat ReStore staff continued to be inspired by her commitment to the organization, and look forward to serving alongside her into the future.  Three cheers to Susan Diehn! Hip, hip, hooray!

A ReStore Reflection

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I was hooked on the Home Store after my first shift and committed to several Saturdays each month. Two years later, a new staff position had been created and it was suggested that I apply. I wasn’t looking to make a move, I enjoyed teaching and loved the high school environment, but the opportunity to be a part of this mission was far too strong of a pull. My time in the Home Store, now the ReStore, yielded far more than I ever expected.

Reckoning with Race and Housing

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As an organization that condemns structural racism in our housing system, Asheville Habitat will not transfer this deed to another owner with this abhorrent language. We took the time to learn from the Register of Deeds and work with Pisgah Legal Services to draft new deed language that nullifies the racist restrictions. This is a small step in the right direction and we hope it inspires other property owners to do the same.

Still Working Towards Racial Equity

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Asheville Habitat works every day to close the racial homeownership gap and expand access to stable and healthy homes. For 37 years, Asheville Habitat has built dozens of thriving diverse neighborhoods defying the lies behind residential segregation. Successful Habitat mortgages disprove the myths that justify “redlining” and predatory lending. Most important, we have empowered families to build a shelter against other forms of disparity.

When Quarantine Comes, Things Go

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When asked if they had fun reminiscing as they went through all their things, Charlie laughed and suggested I halt my inquiry unless I wanted Tricia back in the garage removing things from the donation pile! She confirmed they had lots of fun traveling down memory lane, and that some items were easier to let go than others.

A most gratifying project

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A reflection by Jennie Goldenberg, an AmeriCorps member who works on the Home Repair team. 

“Recently we had a huge home repair project that involved fixing about 60% of our client’s home. He has cerebral palsy and had been living independently for about ten years. He unfortunately was not able to keep up with the house and in turn the framing had sunk in and it was not healthy for him to live there anymore. By working on the 60% of his house, we were able to get him a workable area that he could live in again. It was one of the toughest projects to date, but it was also the most gratifying.

His kitchen before the remodel was in disarray, and nothing was able to be used to making a nutritious meal. We were able to install new cabinets, lighting, and a stove, with a safe and level floor. He had been sleeping in a chair in his living room, not utilizing either one of the two bedrooms that were in the house. We were able to take the back bedroom and stabilize the flooring so that it would no longer be falling; we made it completely level so that it was safe for him to walk. We completely remodeled his bathroom, with a new washer, dryer, shower and vanity. The washer and dryer were set up correctly, therefore not as much of a fire risk as the ones before. The shower was converted into a walk-in shower with handrails, so that he has less probability of falling when getting in. By getting all of these individual parts of his house fixed, we have given him the ability to continue to live his life in the home that has been passed down through his family.

Upon completion, he and his mother came to see what the finished product looked like. Co-workers Chris and Pete and I took the tour with them, and we were able to see their reaction to a completely different looking house. They had so much gratitude for us and were amazed at how much we were able to get done in a month. At the end of the tour we all held hands and had a moment of peace and togetherness. I could tell that he and his mother were so grateful that he was going to be able to continue to live in the home that he spent most of his adult life. This is a project that I really felt like we were going to have a lasting impact on their family, and ultimately create a better life for him.”

To learn more about the client (Victor) and see photos of his renovated home, click here.

Interested in serving as an AmeriCorps member with us starting in August 2020? Click here to see the open positions with Asheville Habitat and apply.

Tag Archive for: Affordable Homeownership

Tag Archive for: Affordable Homeownership

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