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Positive Long-Term Impact of Homeownership

LOCAL STUDY SHOWS POSITIVE LONG-TERM IMPACTS OF HABITAT HOMEOWNERSHIP

Davidson College Survey Reveals Benefits From Financial Stability to Better Health

 

CORNELIUS, NC—From Huntersville to Statesville, families who live in homes built by Our Towns Habitat for Humanity say they’re better off than before moving into their home, according to a recent study by Davidson College. The study shows the benefits of an affordable home go beyond shelter. Habitat Homes bring improvements in financial stability, employment, education and health.

The survey, conducted last spring, reached out to nearly 300 Habitat homeowners to see how their lives had changed as a result of living in a decent home with a mortgage they could afford.

According to the survey:

  • 80% believe they are in better financial shape with an affordable mortgage
    • 5% reported being able to meet expenses
    • 9% could meet expenses with a little left over while 31.6% live comfortably
  • 5% believe employment is more stable
  • 9% feel their children performed better in school
  • 8% believe they are in better health

 

“National studies have indicated a positive correlation between stable housing and financial security,” said Gayle Kaufman, PhD, Nancy and Erwin Maddrey Professor of Sociology at Davidson College, whose students designed and coordinated the study as part of her community-based learning course called Survey Research Methods (Soc 391). “The students set out to determine whether local homeowners experienced similar outcomes. The students’ results support the idea that Habitat for Humanity relieves financial burdens for most of their clients and improves overall financial stability.”

Based on 61 completed surveys, the response rate was 21%. Homeowners resided in Huntersville (1%), Cornelius (34 %), Davidson (11%), Mooresville (30%), Troutman (less than 1%) and Statesville (13%). Respondents had lived in their homes for 10.1 years, on average. The survey results were shared today with town managers and planning directors in Our Towns Habitat’s service area.

“Thanks to the generosity of volunteers and donors, Our Towns Habitat has been serving low-income, working families in this area for 31 years. We’ve seen the joy on homeowners’ faces as they unlock the door to their very own home for the first time,” said Chris Ahearn, Our Towns Habitat CEO. “As our teams raise the walls on the next new home, it’s gratifying to confirm what we’ve believed all along—that a safe, decent home with a mortgage people can afford is more than a roof over a family’s head—it’s the foundation for a sustainable future.”

Since its founding in 1989, Our Towns Habitat has constructed more than 350 homes across its operating area. This fiscal year, Our Towns Habitat plans to build nine new homes and complete 27 critical repairs to help low-income senior citizens and others preserve homes they own.

Thanks to Davidson College students who conducted the research: Daniel Bunson, Dusan Kovacevic, Isabella McElrath, Jessica Moo Young, and Margaret Reliford.

 

About Davidson College:

The Davidson College Center for Civic Engagement connects students, faculty and staff with opportunities to impact positive community driven change. On average, 25 community-based learning courses are offered each year providing students the opportunity to learn about social issues while building community capacity.

Davidson College is a premier liberal arts college for 1,920 students located 20 minutes north of Charlotte in Davidson, N.C. Since its establishment in 1837 by Presbyterians, the college has graduated 23 Rhodes Scholars and is consistently regarded as one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country. Through The Davidson Trust, the college became the first liberal arts institution in the nation to replace loans with grants in all financial aid packages, giving all students the opportunity to graduate debt-free. Davidson competes in NCAA athletics at the Division I level, and a longstanding Honor Code is central to student life at the college.

 

About Our Towns Habitat for Humanity

Founded in 1989, Our Towns Habitat for Humanity is a 501(c)(3) organization that brings people together to build homes, communities and hope in North Mecklenburg and Iredell Counties. Habitat homeowners build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage. In addition to new home construction, Our Towns Habitat performs critical home repair services to alleviate serious health, life and safety issues. Sales at the organization’s ReStores in Cornelius, Mooresville and Statesville help fund the mission, including nearly five houses last year. To learn more, visit ourtownshabitat.org. You can also follow Our Towns Habitat on Facebook and Twitter.

A life well-lived: Volunteer Jack Hart passes away at age 100

Our Towns Habitat is saddened by the loss of longtime volunteer and supporter Jack Hart, but we are blessed to have him as an integral part of the Habitat mission. Jack passed away shortly after his 100th birthday, on Aug. 28, 2018, after a brief bout with pancreatic cancer. His warm, adventurous spirit was captured by the Charlotte Observer in this story of his amazing life.

The photo above shows Jack celebrating the opening of the newest Habitat ReStore in Statesville on April 13, 2018.

Chris Ahearn takes leadership helm at Our Towns

After a four-month national search that attracted more than 200 applicants, Our Towns Habitat for Humanity is excited to welcome Chris Ahearn as its new chief executive officer. Ahearn, a longtime Habitat supporter and volunteer, brings more than 20 years of communication and corporate leadership experience to the organization.

CEO Chris Ahearn

Our Towns CEO Chris Ahearn

Ahearn worked for Lowe’s Companies for more than 17 years in Corporate Communications and Community Relations, and served most recently as Vice President of Public Affairs. Prior to her work with Lowe’s, Ahearn served as the Director of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs for Food Lion in Salisbury. Early in her career, she worked in broadcast journalism, as a reporter and anchor for KOCO-TV in Oklahoma City and WLUK-TV in Green Bay.

Ahearn has a deep familiarity with Habitat for Humanity and its mission to build decent, affordable housing. She helped encourage and facilitate a partnership between Lowe’s and Habitat during her tenure with the company. She is particularly passionate about the Women Build initiative, which Lowe’s undertook as underwriter of the program. Ahearn has also personally been volunteering on Habitat builds for nearly 20 years, with Our Towns Habitat and on various builds across the country.

“Chris’ resume is extensive, but it is her decades of volunteer work with Habitat, her church and other philanthropic groups that speaks volumes about what fulfills and aligns with her greater purpose,” said Scottt Lagueux, president of Our Towns Habitat’s Board of Directors. “I know she will bring great energy and enthusiasm to her new role at Our Towns Habitat.”

After swinging hammers for Habitat for two decades, Ahearn is excited to put a different set of skills to work building affordable homes.

“I look forward to taking my volunteer experience and longtime passion for Habitat’s mission to a new level as leader of the Our Towns Habitat team,” Ahearn said.

In appointing Ahearn as the new CEO, the Board also voted to elevate Director of Operations Denise Copeland to Senior Affiliate Director. Copeland has served as interim director since September, when former Executive Director Jeff Porter resigned to accept a position with Samaritan’s Purse.

“Denise has done an extraordinary job over the past two years keeping the many working parts of the affiliate running in good order,” Lagueux said.

Breakfast with Santa Event Cancelled

Birkdale Village and Our Towns Habitat for Humanity regret to announce that this year’s Breakfast with Santa, held annually at Red Rocks Café, has been cancelled. Several months ago, Red Rocks was damaged by a fire in their kitchen. While they have been working diligently to reopen, it will not happen in time to hold the breakfast.

Other options were considered for this year’s event but the event size and logistics, along with the short time frame, did not allow for alternate plans. In lieu of the funds raised at the event, Birkdale Village is donating $3,000 to Our Towns Habitat for Humanity for its affordable housing programs.

Birkdale Village also encourages those who were thinking of attending this year’s event, or who just want to help this worthy organization, to donate as well. With public support, we are hopeful to exceed the amount raised at last year’s event, through direct donations to Our Towns Habitat.

Donations can be made by online or by sending a check to Our Towns Habitat, PO Box 1088, Davidson, NC 28031. Please write “Santa” on the memo line or in the comments field for online gifts.

There are still plenty of opportunities to visit Santa during the Holiday Season at Birkdale Village. For a complete schedule, visit www.facebook.com/birkdalevillage.

New Habitat ReStore coming to Statesville

STATESVILLE, NC–Our Towns Habitat for Humanity plans to open a third Habitat ReStore in Statesville by the end of the year. (more…)

Five Members Join Our Towns Habitat Board

Our Towns Habitat for Humanity recently added five new members to its board of directors, each serving a three-year team. Those joining the board include: Matthew Blickley, Dan Dunn, Kay Fisher, Charles Warren and Tim Zarsadia.
Our Towns Habitat aims to build homes, communities and hope in North Mecklenburg and Iredell Counties.

Blickley, of Huntersville, is the senior director of financial planning and analysis for the Coca-Cola Bottling Company. Blickley has previously supported Our Towns Habitat through fundraising and is ready to expand his support to the organization’s mission through his board service.

Dunn is returning to the board with a longstanding history with the affiliate. Dunn once served as board chair, currently sits on the finance committee and has volunteered on a number of building trips to Guatemala. Dunn is the owner of Sunn Enterprises and resides in Davidson with his family.

With a deep passion for working with people at every economic level, Fisher, a Realtor, is adding her expertise to the board. Cornelius-based Fisher currently works at Keller Williams and serves on The Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce Diversity Council and is a board member of the Davidson Land Conservatory.

A current Habitat for Humanity construction volunteer, Warren is excited to expand his commitment to the organization as a new board member. The UNC-Charlotte graduate is a senior staff accountant with BGW Certified Public Accountants, PLLC, and is currently working on his CPA license.

Attorney Zarsadia’s law experience will be added to the Our Towns Habitat board. Zarsadia practices civil litigation with a focus on personal injury for The McIntosh Law Firm. Based in Huntersville, he enjoys coaching his three children’s tennis and soccer teams and is an active member of St. Mark Catholic Church.

“Our Towns Habitat is excited to have the expertise and guidance from such a diverse group of professionals,” said Executive Director Jeff Porter.“The leadership from each new board member will only continue to enhance and grow our services for families in need of affordable housing in our community.”

July Marks Three Home Dedications

In the month of July, Our Towns Habitat was blessed to hand over the keys to three families who partnered with us to build their new, affordable homes.

At the beginning of the month, the new home of Billy and Patsy was dedicated. Not only is this new home more affordable for the couple, with its absence of stairs, it is much more accommodating for Patsy, who has had two knee surgeries and heart failure. Because of Patsy’s physical limitations, Billy has put in most of the “sweat equity” hours and has learned a lot. After working on his house, Billy feels confident that he can maintain their new home. Our Towns Habitat has made financial stability possible for the couple, who will no longer have to live paycheck to paycheck. “God has blessed us with this house,” Patsy said.

The couple’s house was sponsored by the Wildcat Davidson College Habitat for Humanity campus chapter as well as Davidson College Presbyterian Church.

About a week later, Carmen and her daughter, Daniella received their own set of keys. After financial struggles in Carmen’s home state of New York put the mother and daughter in a homeless shelter for six months, Carmen searched for a way out, and found one in North Carolina, where she moved to be with family. Still needing affordable housing, Carmen learned about Habitat. She applied—and was eventually accepted— to be a Habitat homeowner. After this long journey, not only does Carmen now have a safe and affordable place for her and her daughter to live and a yard for Daniella to play in, but she has restored faith in God. “In New York, I was to a point where I questioned God, and my faith was so low,” Carmen said. “Now being here and realizing God has made my life better, I put my life in His hands.”

Carmen’s house was sponsored by the Women Build team and Leon Levine Foundation.

We rounded out the month with a third dedication for Barbara. At her former home, Barbara worried about the safety of her 8-year-old son, Armani. After moving into a house closer to Armani’s grandmother, the family was uprooted when the landlord decided she wanted to move back into the house where Barbara and her family were living. They moved in with family, having to put many of their belongings in storage. In her new house, Barbara will have an affordable mortgage and a safe place for her son and 16-year-old niece Hydeia. Barbara gave much of her time putting in her sweat equity hours while balancing a full-time job, and was overwhelmingly thankful for those who volunteered their time. “I want to thank all the volunteers who came out to help me build my house—they selflessly gave up their weekends and their time.”

Barbara’s house was sponsored by First Presbyterian Church of Statesville, Western Ave Baptist Church, Trinity Episcopal Church, Broad Street United Methodist Church, Wells Fargo, Kewaunee Scientific Corp., and Toter/Wastequip.

Our Towns Names New Director of Operations

Our Towns Habitat for Humanity is welcoming Denise Copeland to its leadership team as the organization’s new director of operations.

While new to Our Towns’ staff, Copeland is certainly not new to the organization. She has been a volunteer since 2002, when she got involved through her then-employer and strong partner of Habitat for Humanity, Lowe’s Home Improvement.

“I became hooked for the cause and have remained an ever more active participant year after year,” Copeland said of her passion for Habitat.
Copeland was a volunteer for Our Towns’ first Women Build and has been involved in every Women Build since. She has also served on the Finance and ReStore committees, as a board member for the past year, and led the past two affiliate mission trips to Guatemala.

Copeland will provide comprehensive oversight of the organization’s daily administrative, financial and operational functions, including enhancing internal processes and communication. Specifically, she will oversee the construction, family services, finance, human resources and ReStore divisions. In her new position, Copeland will also work with board members and staff leadership to develop a five-year strategic plan for Our Towns Habitat.

Copeland comes to Our Towns Habitat from Morton Salt Company, where she served as national account manager for Lowe’s, Orchard Supply Company and Menards. She brings experience in project and operations management, budgeting and forecasting, contract negotiations and new business development.

“We are thrilled to have someone with Denise’s skill set and passion for the Habitat for Humanity mission joining our leadership team,” said Executive Director Jeff Porter. “We are looking forward to having a fresh perspective on our operations as we work toward our mission of putting God’s love into action by bringing people together to build homes, communities and hope.”

Within Our Towns Habitat’s service area, more than 5,000 families currently live in substandard housing. New home construction is part of the solution to get families out of overcrowded and unsafe living conditions. In addition, critical home repairs have helped people in urgent need, uplifting lives and revitalizing neighborhoods.

For more information, visit ourtownshabitat.org. You can also follow Our Towns Habitat on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Keep Busy This Summer By Lending a Helping Hand in Your Community

Looking for a way to fill up those empty days during your summer? Want to help in your community with Our Towns Habitat? Need a way to help the kids beat the heat, and the boredom while on summer break? Then you’ve come to the right place!

Our Towns Habitat has many opportunities coming up in these summer months for both kids and adults. Volunteering is a great way to get outside, meet new people, and make a difference in the lives of others. Below is a schedule for our upcoming youth opportunities. All youth projects will be at 9830 Psalms Street, Cornelius.

Date
Project
Age Group
8/20
Painting
14-15
9/10
Interior trim
16-17
9/17
Paint trim
14+
9/24
Interior hardware
16-17
10/8
Landscaping
14+

There are also many upcoming adult volunteer opportunities. The schedule for those projects are below. These projects all occur at different sites, so please note the location of each project.

Date
Project
Site Location
7/9
Vinyl siding
136 Burke Circle, Mooresville
7/16
Porch beam, trusses prep, etc.
9830 Psalms Street, Cornelius
7/23
Sheath roof, etc.
9830 Psalms Street, Cornelius
7/23
Sheath roof, etc.
138 Burke Circle, Mooresville
7/30
Shingle roof
9830 Psalms Street, Cornelius
8/6
Metal roof
138 Burke Circle, Mooresville
8/13
Framing
146 Burke Circle, Mooresville
8/16
Vinyl siding
9830 Psalms Street, Cornelius
8/20
Paint walls
9830 Psalms Street, Cornelius
8/27
Sheath roof
146 Burke Circle, Mooresville
9/10
Metal roof
146 Burke Circle, Mooresville
9/10
Interior trim
9830 Psalms Street, Cornelius
9/17
Vinyl siding
146 Burke Circle, Mooresville
To sign up for any of these opportunities, please take a few minutes to register on our website.

Volunteer hours for all projects are 7:45a.m. -1p.m. Volunteers should arrive promptly at 7:45a.m. for safety instructions. You may park on site. Wear clothes that you don’t mind getting messy and closed-toed shoes. Also, don’t forget sunscreen and a water bottle!

All volunteers will need to print and complete the Volunteer Waiver forms on our websiteand bring it to the project site. No prior experience is required, and you don’t need to bring your own tools, but work gloves are recommended. Construction schedule is subject to change, so be sure to check Volunteer Up before your scheduled build day. We hope to see you at the work sites in the upcoming months!

In addition to construction volunteers, we also have many volunteer opportunities in our ReStores and our office. These opportunities are on-going and have flexible and workable hours. If interested, please email cathy@ourtownshabitat.org.

Mooresville Residents Eligible for Critical Repair Loans

The Town of Mooresville has awarded $150,000 over three years to Our Towns Habitat for Humanity to perform critical housing repairs for eligible Mooresville residents.

“It’s extremely important that the Town of Mooresville maintain our existing affordable housing stock,” said Mooresville Senior Planner Tim Brown. “This is a tool we can use as a community to accomplish that.”
Our Towns Habitat is currently soliciting applications for Mooresville residents in need of critical health or safety repairs. To qualify, residents must live in and own the home for which they are seeking repairs, must meet minimum and maximum income requirements, and must be willing and able to repay an interest-free loan on repair costs. Applicants must not be in danger of foreclosure and meet certain credit requirements.

Repayment for repairs can extend for up to seven years, with average payments of $60 a month. Monthly payments may be more or less than the average depending on repairs performed. The interest-free repayment requirement allows the program to serve more families, Brown explained.

“The way this program is structured as a revolving, no-interest loan makes it sustainable,” Brown said.

Examples of repairs that may be covered under the program include structural and roof repairs, mold removal, addressing plumbing or electrical issues, heating and cooling system repairs and accessibility modifications, such as installation of ramps, handrails/grab bars and other bathroom modifications.

A recent study by the National Low Income Housing Coalition found that for every 10 very low income families in North Carolina, only three affordable housing units exists. Our Towns Habitat’s critical repairs program helps keep people in homes they already own, while the organization’s new homeowner program adds to the affordable housing stock. Together, both programs help bridge the gap between the need for affordable housing and available units.

For more information, please visit ourtownshabitat.org. Residents may also call Vicki Smith at (704) 896-8957, ext. 125. Spanish-speaking staff is available at the Our Towns Habitat office, located at 20310 N. Main Street in Cornelius, open Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Our Towns Habitat for Humanity is an equal housing opportunity provider, and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability or family status.

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