Wake Habitat seeking new chief

Frank Westmeyer
Frank Westmeyer

Todd Cohen

RALEIGH, N.C. – Habitat for Humanity of Wake County is looking for a new executive director.

Woody Yates, who served as executive director for just over four years, resigned in April to pursue other interests, says Frank Westmeyer, a retired certified public accountant who is treasurer of Habitat’s board and has been serving as interim executive director.

The board has interviewed several search firms, most of them local, and likely will pick one soon to conduct the search.

Because of the impact of the recession on the workforce, Habitat expects the search will generate a lot of applications, says Westmeyer, who retired in 1999 as vice president of finance for Sprint Mid-Atlantic Telecom.

The transition comes in the face of efforts by Habitat to adjust to the recession by curbing spending so it can maintain its production of affordable housing, Westmeyer says.

Habitat expects to build 19 houses in the fiscal year that begins July 1, including seven houses it had planned to complete in the current fiscal year, when it actually completed 12 houses.

Not including those seven houses, Habitat had planned to build 15 to 19 houses in the next fiscal year, but the economy has made it tougher to find sponsors, typically corporations and church-affiliated groups.

“They’re being more careful with their money,” Westmeyer says. “Clearly, the economy is having an impact.”

Habitat’s budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 will increase to nearly $4 million from $3.7 million in the fiscal year just ending, mainly because of cash flow related to the construction schedule for houses, and the acquisition of land.

But projected contributions for the new fiscal year will be flat compared to the fiscal year just ending, and Habitat’s ReStore is projecting an increase of only $75,000 from the $1 million in sales revenue it generated in the fiscal year just ending.

Habitat also has taken steps to curb or trim spending, Westmeyer says.

That includes laying off one employee and not filling two jobs, representing a staff reduction of 7.5 percent, to 37 positions, says Westmeyer, who is working on a voluntary basis.

The budget also anticipates staff salary increases that will be much lower than normal.

And training and travel spending has been restricted.

“We have critically looked at all spending categories, and anything that is even remotely discretionary has been severely cut back or eliminated,” Westmeyer says. “We want to keep the production as high as we can keep it, given the reality that we still have to have sponsors to do that.”

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