Founded in 1976 by Millard and Linda Fuller, Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit agency that has helped to build over one million affordable homes worldwide. Habitat for Humanity of Wake County was founded in 1985. Since then, Habitat Wake has partnered with more than 500 families to build safe, decent, affordable homes in our community. Homeowners work alongside sponsors and community volunteers to build their house, and they purchase the completed home with an affordable mortgage. Applicants complete a rigorous approval and preparation process, which includes credit checks, home visits, financial literacy classes, and interviews to ensure their readiness to buy and maintain a new home. Habitat Wake’s Family Support Department offers homeowner education and support throughout the life of each family’s mortgage. In 2015, Habitat Wake’s 30th year, the agency built its 500th home and served its 1,000th family under the leadership of its current President/CEO Kevin Campbell.
In 2010, Habitat Wake launched a Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative. The project focused on two Southeast Raleigh neighborhoods – Long Acres and Apollo Heights. Through this effort, Habitat Wake built eight new homes, completed 38 A Brush With Kindness projects — exterior repairs for existing homeowners. The agency also is working on three home rehabs, and is leading a coalition of neighbors and partners to provide holistic solutions to a community struggling after years of economic decline and increasing crime. In less than two years, the results are significant. Raleigh police report a 53 percent decrease in crime in the neighborhoods.
Though Habitat Wake continues to be committed to Long Acres and Apollo Heights, it has extended it community development work to the Northeast End Quadrant of Wake Forest, College Park and the South Park communities. Already, Habitat Wake has completed six A Brush With Kindness projects in these new communities with more planned over the next few months. Habitat has convened or is part of community coalitions in each neighborhood. And in Wake Forest, Read and Feed programs and new construction projects already are underway.
Habitat Wake’s increasing productivity and success is made possible through strong, diverse partnerships. Last year alone, more than 12,000 individuals volunteered their time to support the mission of building safe,affordable homes. In the last five years, more than 300 corporations, congregations, individuals and local organizations have partnered with us, some providing the financial support needed to purchase building materials and the volunteer support to build the homes. Through the years, municipalities have contributed critical support, such as grants for land acquisition.
Homeowners are key partners in furthering Habitat’s mission. Each prospective homeowner contributes 250 hours of “sweat equity” on the construction of their home and the homes of their neighbors. In addition, their mortgage payments are reinvested into the building of more homes.
A Retail Store with Heart
In 1991, Habitat Wake established the ReStore, a vibrant home improvement store in a 42,000 square foot warehouse shared with the Habitat Wake office. In October 2011, Habitat Wake opened its second ReStore, located in Cary, NC. Additional stores opened during the past year in Apex, Fuquay Varina and Wake Forest. Families and businesses donate new and gently used building materials that the ReStore sells to the public at discounted prices. The related DeConstruction Program salvages good and usable building materials from residential homes that are being remodeled or demolished. These tax-deductible donations provide a steady source of inventory for the ReStore.
ReStore sales provide a sustainable revenue stream in support of Habitat Wake’s day-to-day operations, enabling the agency to build even more homes. The ReStore also plays an important environmental role in Wake County, diverting more than 4,000 tons of usable building materials from our landfills annually.