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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!

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.

 

Students Leading the Charge to House Sponsorship

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Students from Asheville Christian Academy, Carolina Day School, and Christ School are already well on their way to making the second Habitat Student Build House in Buncombe County a reality. These schools have committed to jointly raise the $55,000 it takes to fully sponsor an Asheville Area Habitat house and provide student volunteers (ages 16 and up) and adult chaperones to help build the house. Each school will raise $18,333. Construction on the house is slated to begin March 24th, with the first wall to be raised three days later.

Reaching such a lofty goal takes leadership. The schools have formed a Student Advisory Committee with students from each school who stepped forward to take on the task of leading the charge. The group met last fall in a preliminary Student Build Workshop, and recently met again for their second workshop at the Habitat office this past Saturday, January 24th.

13 high school student-leaders and a faculty member from each school spent Saturday morning with Habitat core volunteers and staff preparing and learning. They toured the ReStore, learned how to effectively recruit and schedule volunteers for the Student Build House, and were trained on how to use an online crowdsourcing campaign to raise money. They reported on what they had already done to raise money (as a total, they are already 63% to their goal!), and discussed what worked and what didn’t. Plans were also made to prepare for the 2016 Student Build House!

The icing on the cake that day was the presentation of a $4,000 check from State Farm. Proof that they had already come far since the first workshop, this check was the result of a grant proposal the students penned and submitted together. It’s amazing what a group of motivated young people can accomplish with a little bit of guidance and a whole lot of heart!