Seven Things You Might Not Know About Habitat

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By Elizabeth Bowers, Director of Development and Communications

1. We never give away houses.  Habitat for Humanity identifies hardworking, low-to-moderate income families who would like to partner with Habitat. This partnership begins with hard work; each family must complete 200 hours of “sweat equity,” building their home alongside our construction team and volunteers.  The partnership is not complete until 30 years later when the family finishes paying their 0% mortgage on their Habitat home.

2. We do more than build houses. Habitat has three additional programs in Montgomery County. In addition to building and rehabbing homes, we also have a Critical Home Repair program, a Neighborhood Revitalization program, and the Almost Home financial literacy program.  Information about each of these programs can be found on our website.

3. We know that teamwork matters.Families partnering with Habitat work alongside volunteers to build their homes. These volunteers are essential to completing the work we are doing in Montgomery County.  Together these volunteers work to help our partner families achieve their dream of homeownership.

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Empowering Women To Make A Difference

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By Patti Post, Women Build Week Crew Leader

Women Build is all about helping hands and making a difference… in the lives of the Habitat homeowners and the volunteers who participate.

This year will be my 10th or 11th Women Build.  I can’t stop coming because it means so much to me.  Women can make a difference, and they can make it on their own terms.  I love it because each time, I get to watch women leave walking a little taller at the end of the day, realizing what they can do.

Women Build started for me 10 years ago with a tiny ad in the newspaper titled “Women Build Interest Meeting”.  I’d had this idea of Habitat in the back of my mind as something worthwhile that I wanted to look into.  I showed up to the meeting at the Habitat office, and I was one of 125 women present!  I looked around at the other women and thought “This is it.  I want to be a part of this.”

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January Volunteers: MLK Day of Service and More

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By Cara Przybylowicz, Volunteer and Community Relations Manager

2016 is already off to a great start.  So far in January, we have had volunteers coming in regularly as per usual, but we have also had a few special groups come out to help as well. 

At 52 W Basin St., Preston Pickett - a cousin of Lenny Bazemore, who donated the house to Habitat - volunteered with some friends to help with demolition.  At the Philly Home Show last weekend, volunteers from Methacton High School as well as several of our regular ReStore volunteers assisted staff at our booth to share information about HFHMC with those who came out to the show.

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Almost Home: Habitat's Program Teaches Families to Make Their Money Work for Them

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By Michelle Spada, Director of Family Services

HFHMC has launched a new financial literacy and life skills program called Almost Home. The goal of the program is to help families in Montgomery County achieve financial stability and maintain stable housing.

What is financial stability? It is a family’s ability to financially weather a crisis, emergency, or unplanned event without being thrown into chaos. It is having an emergency fund and 3-6 months of living expenses saved away. It is being unburdened by excessive debt or penalized for a poor credit score. Financial stability is when a family’s money works for them instead of controlling them.

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New Year's Resolutions

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By Elizabeth Bowers, Director of Development and Communications

After the holiday hubbub begins to fade and the New Year approaches, I stop and look back.  Every year I take a few minutes before ringing in the New Year to be thankful.  This year I looked back and was thankful for my family that is strong and supportive, for the challenges and triumphs that inspire and motivate me, for my new job as Director of Development and Communications at this wonderful organization, and for everyone who believes that every person deserves to live in a safe and decent home. 

After reflecting on a year gone by, I look ahead.  I make a list of the things I want to accomplish and decide on my resolutions for the year. Traditionally, I make one or two resolutions - only to fail at keeping them by spring.  For 2015, I tried to put my coffee drinking to the test.  Instead of drinking 4 cups, I would only drink 1 each day.  I only lasted until March.  This year I have decided to take a new approach; rather than being resolved to eliminating bad habits, I have decided to take action and do more. I want to make an impact.

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Fall Volunteer Recap

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By Cara Przybylowicz, Volunteer and Community Relations Manager

In the past three months, an abundance of volunteers came through our organization. Each group has spread so much joy and happiness throughout Montgomery County, especially with the Holiday season in full swing!  We have had groups coming out to help in the ReStore as well as on the various worksites in Montgomery County.

Thanks to our wonderful staff and volunteers from our partners at Bank of America, we were able to complete and dedicate a home in Lower Pottsgrove to a very deserving family, the Tremble Family!  We want to wish the family the best of luck with their new home, and offer a huge Congratulations and Welcome Home!

We have also had groups from Eastern University, Ursinus College, IMS Health and Villanova University come into the ReStore to lend a hand in moving furniture, helping customers, and getting ready for the Holiday season!

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Annette's Story

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By Marianne Lynch, Executive Director

Last week, as I was doing one of the many small tasks to get ready for our Holiday Open House, I was able to spend some time with Annette, our newest partner and soon-to-be-owner of 130 Wayne Avenue in Norristown.  When working alongside a family, we get to know their story and how they came to learn of Habitat. Each story is remarkable and unique, but Annette’s story stopped me in my tracks and made me realize once again what a true blessing the stability of a home can be to a family in need.

Annette and I compared notes about how this time of year is so special for children – their excited faces at seeing the presents under the tree, the glittering energy of twinkling lights and all the magic that this season brings. For Annette though, this Christmas is one that is truly bittersweet. She has two beautiful children excited to see the holiday. They can’t wait to see what Santa brings and look forward to spending time as a family.  At the same time her family is also mourning the loss of their youngest member - a three-month old baby who died suddenly of SIDS in September. As we talk, she remarks that life was supposed to be very different at this time of the year with two children and a new baby experiencing the holidays for the first time. The grief is palatable as speaks about the loss of her child, but Annette does not shy away from it, knowing that out of her profound grief will come something good.

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Why Habitat Montco Does This Work

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By Michelle Spada, Director of Family Services

Median Value of Owner-Occupied Housing in Montgomery County: $292,600

Total Cost of 30-Year Fixed Mortgage at 4.06% for $292,600 Property: $506,541

Monthly Payments for 30-Year Fixed Mortgage at 4.06% for $292,600 Property: $1,407

Median Income of Habitat Family of 4: $36,480

Median Housing Budget for Habitat Family of 4: $851.20 per month

Habitat Montco works with families in Montgomery County who make between 30% and 60% of median income for the county. For a family of 4 in Montgomery County, the median income is $81,100. 30% of median income is $24,300. 60% of median income is $48,660.

Now, let’s look at housing budgets. The usual factor utilized to determine a family’s maximum housing budget is to take 28% of their gross household income. This ratio is used both in the affordable housing field and in the traditional mortgage field. This 28% represents ALL housing costs—principal, interest, insurance, and taxes.

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