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Hudson Hills is complete!

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“I come home each day through the street filled with smiling children on bikes, playing on the sidewalks and shooting baskets through hoops. I come home to people visiting and sharing and laughing and smiling on their porches or walking their babies or puppy dogs. I come home to a sanctuary. A place filled with so much love. Hudson Hills Soulshine.”
~ Rhonda, Habitat homeowner

Successful affordable housing initiatives require the partnership of many constituent groups – public, private and municipalities. Last week, we celebrated the completion of our most recent neighborhood, Hudson Hills. It was made possible with the support of the City of Asheville, Buncombe County, North Carolina Housing Finance Agency, the W&S Foundation (through Warren Haynes Presents: The Christmas Jam), and many local businesses, individuals, faith partners, and foundations. Funding was also provided by Habitat homeowner mortgage payments and ReStore proceeds. And in addition to funding, thousands of community volunteers – alongside future homeowners – built these homes.

House sponsor representatives presented ceremonial keys to the last six homes in the neighborhood, among a sea of children and large group of well-wishers. Executive Director Andy Barnett pointed out that three of the program participants have dedicated their careers to affordable housing: Bill Dowse from NCHFA (North Carolina Housing Finance Agency); Lew Kraus and Joan Cooper who recently retired from Asheville Area Habitat; and Jeff Staudinger, the City of Asheville’s Assistant Director of Community and Economic Development. Leadership from affordable housing advocates like these three, coupled with diverse funding partnerships, dedicated volunteers,  and future homeowner participation has proven time and again to be a recipe for a successful Habitat community.

With the strong foundation provided by decent and affordable homes, 24 more local families now have the strength, stability and self-reliance they need to build a better future for themselves. With a decent place to live and an affordable mortgage, these homeowners can save more, invest in the future, pursue opportunities, and have more stability. THANK YOU to everyone who helped us build Hudson Hills, a beautiful community of decent, affordable, energy-efficient houses, that are being turned into homes.

To see photos from the October 14th dedication event, please click here.

To see a short video produced by Buncombe County TV, click here.

Safe home in a tight-knit community is a dream come-true for the Trantham-Roper family

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By Kristen Keefer

This past June, Vicki Trantham and her two sons Geoffrey (Roper), 25, and Rowan, 10, moved into their Hudson Hills home, made possible by proceeds from Warren Haynes Presents: The Christmas Jam. The family harnesses a special dynamic, with oldest son Geoffrey (who is also on the deed) helping his mom Vicki raise her youngest son Rowan. The path that led this family to their forever home was filled with hard work and dedication. And today, the family is deeply rooted in the Habitat community.

Though their plates were already full when they began the journey to become homeowners, Vicki and Geoffrey enthusiastically embraced putting in sweat equity. Geoffrey shared, “It never felt like extra work. Volunteering on the weekends never felt overwhelming after the full 40 hour work week.” For him, being on the construction site was a valuable time to work with his neighbors, develop carpentry skills, and share the company of great people.

Geoffrey viewed sweat equity as an opportunity not an obligation. Geoffrey recalled, “The overall experience has been full of hope and very eye-opening.” He shared memories from his first meeting with Habitat homeowner selection committee members. Saying, “We felt so welcomed into the Habitat family. The committee members genuinely wanted to work with us.”

Currently Geoffrey is quite busy, working as a full-time pastry chef at Filo and actively playing guitar in local band The Spiral. And, though he has already completed his sweat equity, in the future he plans to return to the construction site to continue to volunteer his time to Habitat.

Geoffrey also lends his time to his younger brother Rowan. Vicki, who is a breast cancer survivor, expressed how helpful this has been to her, allowing her the opportunity to engage in activities away from home, including continuing her service with Habitat. Vicki is now a “core volunteer”, volunteering her time weekly in the administrative office, as well as at the ReStore. Being able to continue her service has filled her with happiness. She shared, “It’s wonderful to be able to give back and help other families. It’s what we wanted to do!”

The family is incredibly grateful for the opportunities they’ve been able to pursue since joining the Habitat community. Vicki shared that prior to purchasing a Habitat home they had been staying in a rural setting, in dangerous and nearly unlivable conditions. Relocating to Hudson Hills has not only given them a safe place to call home, but integrated them into a tight-knit community. Geoffrey explained, “We’ve never lived in a neighborhood before. It’s cool to see Rowan have so many friends in the neighborhood. I’m secondhand-excited for him!”

Vicki, Geoffrey, and Rowan are an inspirational family. When you meet them, you instantly feel at ease. Together they embrace a unique dynamic, sticking together through thick and thin. Their commitment to each other and the hard work they’ve put in to reach their dream of homeownership represents everything Habitat strives to support in building homes and building communities.

Celebrating Those Who Share Their Time and Talent

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Volunteers support Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity staff and homeowner families in every aspect of their work. Last year, 2,000 volunteers contributed more than 60,000 hours of service – at a value of more than $1.38 million, according to independentsector.org. Another way to look at it: the hours contributed by volunteers equates to having an additional 28 staff members working 40 hours each week!

Volunteers have been receiving notes, small gifts and special treats through out the week, as well as free lunch. Local SUBWAY® restaurant owners are again saluting approximately 2,000 Habitat for Humanity volunteers by providing boxed lunches at Habitat work sites in Asheville and across the Carolinas.

And there is no better time than this week to mention milestones. Two core volunteers, Joe Kane (ReStore) and Bob Swartz (Construction) have reached the 15 year milestone; Core construction volunteer Bill Kantonen, known as “singing Bill”, is celebrating 20 years as a volunteer with Asheville Area Habitat; and ReStore volunteers Jan Wright and Allen Laws have been volunteering for 25 years! Habitat is grateful for the commitment of these folks, and of all volunteers, whether they have helped once, or they help once a week.

Some fun facts about Habitat volunteers:

  • In 2015, through programs such as Global Village and Collegiate Challenge as well as the signature “Before the Jam, Lend a Hand” volunteer event, Asheville Area Habitat hosted volunteers from 31 different U.S. states!
  • Habitat utilizes about 135 volunteers in the ReStore each week.
  • It takes 1,650 hours of volunteer labor to build one Habitat house.
  • Core construction volunteers (those who volunteer on a weekly or bi-weekly basis) contributed 68% of total construction volunteer hours in 2015!

And if this isn’t enough, hear what our 12 month intern Emily Stevens has to say about Habitat and volunteerism in this short video clip.

Want to get involved? Please click here to learn more about volunteering and how to sign up. Thanks!

 

 

 

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Help us welcome two more families HOME on April 15th

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Thanks to an anonymous donation through the Community Foundation of WNC, Asheville Area Habitat launched it first-ever Business Bungalow House last summer. All donations to the house by local businesses, were matched (up to $25,000) by that caring donor. The response from the local business community was so strong that we were able to build not 1, but 2 Business Bungalow houses!

Booth family in front of house (10) Armstrong familyWe are grateful for all the donors who stepped up to help address the affordable housing crisis in our region by helping us build two more affordable, energy-efficient houses for two local families in need of safe, decent and affordable housing. Please join us for the dedication of these homes on Friday, April 15th at 3:30pm in our Hudson Hills neighborhood to welcome the Booth and Armstrong families HOME. Call Betsy at 828.210.9363 to RSVP. Space is limited!

It’s March Madness Time!

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March Madness is almost here, but for Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity that means an influx of college students spending their spring break volunteering rather than heating up the basketball courts. Each group brings 12-14 volunteers, funds, and a surge of energy that matches any overtime game.

This year we are hosting the following three Habitat for Humanity Collegiate Challenge groups, as well as a high school team from Michigan.

Construction Services Volunteer Coordinator Stephanie Wallace noted, “We are thrilled to welcome three Collegiate Challenge teams AND a high school group this year. This is a great mix of old and new with Villanova and Battle Creek Academy joining us for the first time, while Lesley and Ramapo are returning for the 5th time!”

Lesley University student Audrey remarked, “Working with Habitat has been one of those experiences where you gain just as much as you give…One of the Core volunteers said something that stuck with me: ‘The people that do service are the type of people who I’d like to have as either close friends or neighbors’.’”

The groups are housed at Blue Ridge Assembly in Black Mountain, allowing them to enjoy the beauty of the mountains with access to hiking trails nearby. Each group will participate in a dinner with Habitat partner families who are in-process, allowing the volunteers an opportunity to get to know the people they are helping through their volunteer labor.

Past participant Victoria from Ramapo College, offered this reflection at the end of her alternative spring break with Asheville Habitat: “I think I really found myself by helping others, which is why when the partner families thank us, I just really wanted to thank them because without these opportunities to give back my life would be extremely different. Service has helped me find my passion and purpose in life and I’m so grateful for that.”

If you’d like to participate in some way (think: donate meals), please contact Stephanie at 828.210.9383 or swallace@ashevillehabitat.org.

Kraus/Cooper Cottage Celebrates Lifelong Dedication to Affordable Housing

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In 1988, Lew Kraus accepted a one-year position as Executive Director with Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity (AAHH). That one year commitment extended into 28 years of working to provide decent, affordable housing for families in our community. He will be retiring this spring.

Our organization is planning a number of events and initiatives to recognize and honor Kraus, the first of which was announced at an event celebrating the successful culmination of the organization’s $5M Building a Way Home campaign. To Kraus’ surprise, Board MeLew and Joan with signsmber Spencer Duin announced that the non-profit’s administrative building will be named in his honor. “You probably don’t realize it, but you are sitting in the Lewis J. Kraus Building,” he said to the audience. The signage will be installed this year.

Joan Cooper, long-time Family Services Director and Kraus’ wife, will retire as well. Duin announced that the Family Services Suite in the administrative building will be dedicated and named for Cooper’s own exceptional 26 years of service with the affiliate.

The organization has also decided that the most fitting way to honor the duo who made lifelong careers of helping families in need of safe, decent housing is to build a Habitat house in their name. The Kraus/Cooper Cottage will be built in Habitat’s Hudson Hills neighborhood and will
commence with a wall raising event at 12noon on Friday, February 26th.Donate to cottage button

Those who wish to give a gift to thank Lew and Joan for their dedicated service and wish them well in retirement are encouraged to donate to the Kraus/Cooper Cottage. (Please select Kraus/Cooper Cottage in Area of Support drop down menu.)

A new Executive Director will be named in the coming months and Kraus and Cooper will subsequently retire in March.

 

 

Strong Response Provides Launching Pad for Business Bungalow #2

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Local businesses are deeply concerned about the lack of affordable housing in Asheville, and they’re doing something about it. The response to our first ever Business Bungalow was so great that the house is fully funded and we have seed money to start a second Business Bungalow House!

#23_BizBungalow_8.26.15 (3)Thanks to an anonymous donation through the Community Foundation of WNC, Asheville Area Habitat launched it first-ever “Business Bungalow” House this past summer. All donations to the house by local businesses, were matched (up to $25,000) by that caring donor. This house (pictured left) is nearing completion and will soon be home to the Booth family.

Affordable housing is one of the most pressing unmet needs in our region. A recently released report* indicated that the combination of a lack of affordable units, a critically low vacancy rate and a significant projected population growth will make housing availability in our area, especially affordable housing, a rare commodity. Numerous articles about the topic have been written in Mountain Xpress and the Asheville Citizen-Times, to name a few.

We are grateful to all the sponsors (listed below) who supported our first-ever Business Bungalow and we hope their support will inspire you to get involved with Business Bungalow #2.

How to get involved:
Donate
Donations of all sizes are welcome and appreciated. All donors will receive a special window cling (decal), be recognized in AAHH’s annual report (printed and online) and be included in a printed program at the dedication of the house. Click the green button to donate and select Business Bungalow under Area of Support.

Businesses that give $250 will be recognized as Housing Champions and will also receive the following benefits: the option to schedule one on-site volunteer workday, and a listing on AAHH’s website for the duration of the build (approximately six months).

Sponsorship opportunities ($1,000 and up) are also available. To learn more, visit http://bit.ly/AAHHsponsorships or contact Betsy Warren, Sponsorship Coordinator, at bwarren@ashevillehabitat.org  or 828.210.9363.

Please click here to learn more.

 

THANK YOU TO OUR BUSINESS BUNGALOW SPONSORS!

$25,000 Challenge Sponsor:
Fidel Duke Fund of the Community Foundation of WNC

Partial House Sponsors:
AvL Technologies ($20,000)
Publix Super Markets Charities ($10,000)

Blueprint Sponsors ($1,000):
Alice D. Hamling Foundation
Alicia Rodriguez DDA PA
Altamont Environmental, Inc.
Anonymous
Asheville Downtown Association
Asheville Fence
Beverly-Hanks & Associates
BlueStar Hospitality Fairfield Inns
Bart and Elaine Boyer
Boys, Arnold & Company
Team Browne – Keller Williams
Brunk Auction
Carlton Architects
Charlie and Pat Clogston
Community Foundation of WNC
Corner Kitchen and Chestnut
Deerfield Episcopal Retirement Community
Erie Insurance
Gerry and Nancy Kitch
Mark A. Kleive DDS
Mast General Store, Inc.
New Morning Ltd.
Smokey Park Supper Club
WCQS

Housing Champions ($250):
Allergy Partners of WNC
Ambiance Interiors
Anonymous
Atlanta Bread Company
Bankers Insurance
The Bayshore Company
Builders FirstSource
Clean Environments
Kit and Mark Cramer
Dennison and Kay Crews
Daniels Group
Eaton Corporation
Groce Funeral Home
Harry’s on the Hill
Jeff and Anne Imes
Kilwin’s Chocolates, Fudge & Ice Cream
Leslie and Associates, Inc.
McAbee & Associates, PA
Mediterranean Restaurant
Milkco, Inc
One Who Serves
Parsec Financial
Power Plus Electrical Service, Inc.
Rankin Vault
RealtyPro – Michael White
Silver-Line Plastics
Skyrunner
Twin Hills Structure, PLLC
Hank and Nancy Young

 

*The January 2015 Regional Housing Analysis by Bowen Research Group, commissioned by the City of Asheville.

A reason to celebrate

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On Saturday, May 31st Habitat homeowner-to-be Rhonda Kensinger (right) worked her final 7 hours towards her 200 hours of required Sweat Equity. But for Rhonda, it’s not over. She remarked, “We still have a whole neighborhood to finish!” and then signed on as a Friday core construction volunteer going forward.

If you missed the initial article that Rhonda wrote about the paper chain, I encourage you to read it now.

200 hour chain_Rhonda K

200 hours chain, the start of the build

Rhonda celebrated the completion of her sweat equity hours with a 200 hour cake and her family, friends, fellow volunteers and construction supervisors by her side. Rhonda said, “We decided to celebrate everyone’s 200 hours from now on.” With vast personal and professional responsibilities, imagine also making time to volunteer for 200+ hours. Parents often make difficult decisions and major sacrifices while working towards Habitat homeownership. But each and every one of them say it’s worth it in the end; when they have a safe, decent and affordable HOME to come back to each and every day.

Kudos to Rhonda and all the others who have, are, or will work towards a brighter future for themselves and their families. And thank you to all the Habitat volunteers and sponsors that are helping to provide a hand up.

family helps_Rhonda M

With family, friends and fellow volunteers on her final day of sweat equity

With John M_Rhonda K

Rhonda with construction supervisor John Meadows

200 hr cake_Rhonda K

Cake to celebrate completion of 200 hours or Sweat Equity

 

 

Habitat Announces First “Business Bungalow” House

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Affordable housing is one of the most pressing unmet needs in our region. A recently released report* indicated that the combination of a lack of affordable units, a critically low vacancy rate and a significant projected population growth will make housing availability in our area, especially affordable housing, a rare commodity.

Thanks to an anonymous donation through the Community Foundation of WNC, Asheville Area Habitat is pleased to announce that its first-ever “Business Bungalow” House will soon begin in West Asheville. All donations to this house by local businesses, will be matched (up to $25,000) by this caring donor.

The donor, who wants to address the affordable housing shortage head-on, is offering this match to encourage the business community to get involved and be part of the solution. “This is an opportunity to work together to build a Habitat house, address a pressing community need, and most importantly, transform the life of another local family,” said Betsy Warren, Sponsor Coordinator for Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity. “We are enormously grateful to this donor and we’re excited to partner with the local business community to collectively address the lack of affordable housing in the area.”

How to get involved:
Donations of all sizes are welcome and appreciated. All donors will receive a special window cling (decal), be recognized in AAHH’s annual report (printed and online) and be included in a printed program at the dedication of the house. Click here to Donate and select Business Bungalow under Area of Support.

Businesses that give $250 will be recognized as Housing Champions and will also receive the following benefits: the option to schedule one on-site volunteer workday, and a listing on AAHH’s website for the duration of the build (approximately six months).

Sponsorship opportunities ($1,000 and up) are also available. To learn more, visit http://bit.ly/AAHHsponsorships or contact Betsy Warren, Sponsorship Coordinator, at bwarren@ashevillehabitat.org  or 828.210.9363.

 

*The January 2015 Regional Housing Analysis by Bowen Research Group, commissioned by the City of Asheville.

 

Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity and Lowe’s teamed up for National Women Build Week

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On Friday, May 8th, local Women Build volunteers and Lowe’s Heroes employee volunteers were among more than 20 volunteers who joined Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity to help build affordable housing in Asheville as part of National Women Build Week, May 2-10.

In recognition of National Women Build Week and in celebration of a well-loved Women Build volunteer, Habitat hosted a dedication ceremony mid-day in honor of Barbara Reynolds, a woman known by Habitat volunteers as the “Women Build Lunch Lady.” For many years, as a way to stay involved after aging out of swinging hammers, Barbara made lunch once a week for the Women Build volunteers, always with a secret ingredient, which she made them guess. Barbara died suddenly last year. To honor her, the Women Build Advocacy Team raised $10,000 for the “Barbara Reynolds Memorial Kitchen” with an online crowdfunding campaign and through memorial gifts given after Barbara’s death. After a potluck on the jobsite, an apron embroidered with the Women Build logo and “Barbara Reynolds Memorial Kitchen” was presented to Christina Demorgoli, the future homeowner of the Women Build House.

Demorgoli noted that although she never had the opportunity to meet Barbara, she felt a closeness with her because of all the love shared among the people that were present at the event and even those who loved Barbara but were not able to be there today. “All this love for Barbara will be felt in my new kitchen, in my new house,” she said.

In addition to the dedication of the kitchen, Lowe’s presented a $5,000 check to Asheville Area Habitat. Those funds will pay for materials used in the Women Build House.

To see photos from the event, click here.

National Women Build Week is a week-long event created by Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build program that challenges women to devote at least one day to help build affordable housing in their local communities. Across the nation, more than 15,000 women volunteered at Habitat construction sites last week to spotlight the homeownership challenges faced by women.

Lowe’s helped launch National Women Build Week in 2008 and each year provides the support of Lowe’s Heroes and conducts how-to clinics at stores to teach volunteers construction skills. “National Women Build Week has made a difference in the lives of thousands of families since its inception,” said Joan Higginbotham, Lowe’s director of community relations. “We’re grateful to all the women in Asheville who got involved this week and were part of something bigger with Lowe’s and Habitat.”

Lowe’s donated nearly $2 million to this year’s National Women Build Week, including $5,000 to Asheville Area Habitat. National Women Build Week is one of the major initiatives supported through Lowe’s national partnership with Habitat for Humanity. Since 2003, Lowe’s has committed more than $63 million to Habitat and helped more than 4,000 families improve their living conditions.

Habitat’s Women Build program recruits, educates and inspires women to build and advocate for simple, decent and affordable homes in their communities. Since the program was created in 1998, more than 2,300 homes have been built in partnership with low-income families using Women Build crews. For more information on Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build program and to learn about Women Build events in communities across the U.S. year-round, visit Habitat.org/wb or the Women Build tab on http://www.facebook.com/habitat.

 

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