Message from the Executive Director
In 2016, I had the privilege of being present as three hard working, single mothers became homeowners. Those of you who have experienced these home dedications know how incredibly moving such milestones can be for Habitat for Humanity families and their children.
As powerful as these occasions are, it is the thousands of unseen moments that lead up to these life-changing outcomes. Every Habitat home is possible because of the volunteers who come to our build sites at the crack of dawn preparing for events, greeting other volunteers, or sharing their time and talent as crew leaders. Every “welcome home” moment relies on the unseen hours spent by ReStore staff and volunteers accepting, unloading and selling donations. Every child who finally feels safe playing outside their home does so because someone they never met, or a business or community group they may have never heard of, decided to join us and make a donation.
Unfortunately, the challenges in today’s local housing market require new ideas beyond just affordable home construction. Regionally, 50% of renters and 30% of homeowners are considered cost-burdened. While Habitat for Humanity of Winchester-Frederick-Clarke (HFHWFC) has spent two decades helping renters transition to homebuyers, where do homeowners who are too cost burdened look when they are faced with skyrocketing home preservation expenses? With the closing of Help With Housing in 2016, there are few resources that help provide critical repairs for homeowners who cannot afford to make a costly re-investment in their house.
Since cost-burdened homeowners are approximately twice as likely as cost-burdened renters to be elderly, HFHWFC's Clarke County Repair Program allows us to take on repair projects with the hope of expanding a similar program in Winchester and Frederick County by 2018. HFHWFC is harnessing the power of everyone to find new and creative solutions to the lack of affordable housing stock in our community.
Every partnership, both new and historic, played an instrumental role in increasing our programmatic activity in 2016 and has created momentum for years to come. In 2016, we celebrated our long-standing Wells Fargo Housing Foundation partnership. During the last decade, they have donated over $255,000 for home construction in both Winchester and Frederick County. This was also a year that welcomed renewed and innovative partnerships like those with the Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Commission and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Through federal HOME funds, the sustainability of our construction fund for the next fiscal year is ensured while our homeowners get the added benefit of downpayment assistance.
Furthermore, 2017 saw us relocate and expand our ReStore operation, pay off all organizational debts and even initiate a long-term endowment fund.
To date, every partnership, every dollar, every ReStore donation, every hour of volunteer time, and every new idea shared allowed us to help 62 families realize homeownership. We have another three homes expecting to close by Spring 2018. On behalf of our Board of Directors, I extend our sincere thanks to every one of our partners who helped us bring strength, stability and self-reliance to families in FY 2016-2017, and for building stronger communities and futures for everyone.
Matthew T. Peterson
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