Building blitz

By Todd Cohen

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Three Habitat for Humanity affiliates in Charlotte, Concord and Mooresville on September 11 began raising the walls for new affordable homes for 19 families.

Those new Habitat homeowners teamed up with more than 700 Habitat volunteers from 71 religious congregations and businesses who together worked during “Building on Faith” week to begin construction of 19 new Habitat homes.

The blitz-build includes 11 homes in Charlotte’s Westerly Hill neighborhood, four in Concord’s Sidestown neighborhood, and three in Mooresville’s Eddy Place neighborhood.

All three Habitat affiliates, each of which “tithes” by supporting new housing overseas, plan to build even more houses in their communities, and to recruit new donors and volunteers.

The blitz, for example, brings to more than 600 the number of houses Habitat Charlotte will have built or started since it was formed in 1983, says Judy Smith, development director.

The affiliate, which builds 40 to 50 houses a year, including 11 it dedicated in August, is working through its board committees to enlist new sponsors to contribute $50,000 to $60,000 each for a house.

“If we’re going to meet the growing demand for affordable housing in our community,” Smith says, “we will need continued support from business, communities of faith and individuals.”

With an annual budget of nearly $4 million, the Charlotte affiliate raises $2 million from individuals, businesses, religious congregations, foundations, events and in-kind contributions of building materials.

Habitat generates another $1.4 million from payments on its no-interest mortgages, plus revenue its Re-Store generates from the sale of recycled building materials and donations of goods and products from home renovations.

The affiliate’s “Adopt-A-Home” program last year landed 26 sponsors, half from religious congregations and half from the business community.

That program, Smith says, offers companies an opportunity to team up with clients, sharing the cost and volunteer time needed to build a house.

And the affiliate, which also asks small and mid-sized companies to contribute $1,000 to $10,000 that it pools each year to build one or two houses, this year is encouraging smaller religious congregations to work with larger congregations.

The four houses being built in Concord by Habitat Cabarrus will be the first in a new neighborhood of 50 homes it will build in the next three to four years, says Susan Hough, director of marketing and development.

The affiliate, which was founded in 1989 and seeks $48,000 for sponsorship of a house, has built 79 homes in three neighborhoods in Cabarrus County, and builds roughly nine houses a year.

With support from 30 to 40 churches already, Hough says, the affiliate ants to reach more of the roughly 250 congregations in the county.

The three houses being built by Our Towns Habitat for Humanity in Mooresville are being constructed and funded by 20 churches, says Terry Laney, executive director.

Founded in 1988, the affiliate has built 89 houses in Mooresville, Davidson, Cornelius and Huntersville, including 10 in each of the past three years.

The affiliate, which will dedicate its 100th home next year, plans this year to begin construction of 19 houses, with sponsorships costing $60,500.

“We want to step up to the plate,” Laney says. “There’s a lot of need out there, and we have the support to do it. We just need to bring everyone together.”

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