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Blog - Habitat for Humanity of Wake County

15 FEBRUARY 2017 | A Home for Everyone

Over the weekend, Cary Town Council Member Lori Bush penned a thorough and incredible informative explanation about the need for affordable housing in Wake County. It’s called, “A Home for Everyone” — we love that concept.

Did you know that a household needs to earn at least $18.21 per hour to afford the average 2-bedroom apartment in Wake County? A minimum wage earner would have to work more than two full-time jobs in order to meet that expense. Considering this, it’s not surprising that 100,000 people in Wake County are cost burdened, or paying more than 30% of their income toward housing costs.

According to a Wake County Public School System representative, there are somewhere between 2,900 and 5,000 children enrolled who are experiencing homelessness this year.

So what’s the good news? Together, our community can turn these numbers around. In her post, Lori talks about the progress that’s been made — particularly in Cary, since that is her jurisdiction. Habitat Wake has built several homes in Cary over the years, and DHIC recently developed 53 affordable rental units for seniors. It’s a great start, but there is still a lot of work to be done.

Check out Lori’s full post here.

10 FEBRUARY 2017 | Dedication Day in Cambodia by Megan

Today is dedication day.  This is the day when work is done and the house is blessed and turned over to the family.  It is the culmination of all of the hard work of the team, the family, the Habitat team, the skilled workers and the families.
Before I share about the dedication, we started the day with a trip on the Bamboo Railroad.  It is this funny little tourist attraction that was amazingly fun.  The Bamboo Railroad is a flat car made of bamboo with 4 pillows for the 4 riders and 1 driver at the engine.  It was a little like a ride at the fair.  We went 20 minutes one way- had a beautiful view of the country side, and some got to go really fast.  Then of course there was shopping along with riding.
After the Bamboo train, We traveled to the site for the dedication.   It was a four part ceremony that was incredibly moving, touching and FUN!   We began by decorating the homes with balloons and then had a ribbon cutting ceremony for each house and family.  At each house half the team went 2 by 2 to make a little cut in the ribbon that the family then cut through for the final cut.  When the family cut the ribbon we showered them with cut flowers that looked like the Macy’s day parade.   The family was then handed a ceremonial key to their house.  It was really lovely.
Next we retired to our shade tent and were given the opportunity to share with the family and they with us what this week has meant to each of us.  It is hard to share the beauty of the moment. It is truly hearts transcending language and culture to connect.  Many shared their gratitude with the family for the opportunity to share in their lives and help build their house. It was an honor.   One person captured it perfectly- it was a beautiful exchange- they have given us a memory of a lifetime and hopefully we have helped give them a home for a lifetime.  The family then shared their hearts with us.  There was much gratitude and many, many good wishes for blessings and prosperity.
The sharing ended with dancing and the dousing of the team in baby powder. (think India’s festival of color or the 5K Color Run in Raleigh)   There is something about being covered in white powder that invokes even more dancing and much laughter.  The family, the kids, and us, all in a joyous celebration.
We ended the dedication with lunch with the family at our favorite lunch restaurant.  Then with hearts full and just a bit of sadness we said a final good bye to the families to drive to Siem Reap for our final days of the trip.
It was a beautiful and soul satisfying day.
This post was written by community volunteer Megan.

08 FEBRUARY 2017 | Making Do by Katie Williams and George Lampron

Our team had the opportunity today to visit the current homes of our two families.  The homes are small, collapsing buildings, made of scrap pieces of metal, bamboo, and wood that they families put together themselves. Also, the homes are in a flood plain, and even though they sit about 1 – 1.5 feet off of the ground they flood every year during the rainy season. The families use a makeshift kitchen in another collapsing, but unused, building next door, to cook for families of 6 and 7 every day. These families, along with several others, are being forced off of this land, as the government is reclaiming it for development. Habitat is truly providing these families their first decent place to live, and we are so excited to see the project coming together.
In Cambodia and at the worksite, we are constantly reminded of how blessed we are in our daily lives. As Sinna said to me today, “Here, everything is a tool!” I learned to use the column of the house to sand down a brick, to pour concrete quickly because the pitchers have holes on the bottom, and to reuse empty water bottles to cover things sticking out of the ground and the walls.  Rather than viewing the situation as seeing what you are lacking, you are shown to instead see opportunity in the abundance of resources available.
Just watching the kids laughing as Kevin pushes them in a cart, and the smiles on their faces when they were given the pictures that Dennis took of them, reminds you that there is joy everywhere. We are working closely with the host families daily, and building great relationships with them.  Plus, the walls are complete up to the beams now!
Each of us hopes to find the joy in using the resources that we have to the fullest, instead of lamenting the things we may not have – even when returning home. With tired backs, and full hearts, we can’t wait for another day of helping these wonderful families tomorrow, and carrying their joy with us while we work!
This post was written by volunteers Katie Williams and George Lampron. This is Katie and George’s first global village trip — and definitely not the last! Both are Habitat Wake volunteers and love to travel.

07 FEBRUARY 2017 | Brick Making by Amy Keyworth

Brick Making

Cambodia brick makingToday I worked at the brickyard with five other team members, our translator, and three skilled Cambodian workers. It’s actually nice to be the unskilled worker and simply do what you’re told. And it’s amazing how much creativity can go into a simple job like sifting dirt. And how many different work styles six people can have. It’s also pretty cool how quickly a team forms when the overall goals are more than personal goals. And how much communication can happen between people who have absolutely no way to speak to each other, but again, there is that overall goal.

I want to describe the brick making process. We start with a pile of dirt, which one of us shovels into a wheelbarrow. Next the dirt is sifted, and the stuff that passes through is shoveled into buckets for the brick maker. There’s a lovely mixing machine that mixes the dirt with cement and water, enough to make 60 bricks at a time. Once mixed, the mixture is put in a mold in a hydraulic press. The advantage to this is that the bricks are uniform and strong. After several days of drying they are ready to use in a house. Today, we made 466 bricks and sifted enough dirt for another 120.

This post was written by Amy Keyworth. Amy is a hydrogeologist and works for the State of North Carolina. This is her first Global Village build and first service trip of any kind, but she sure doesn’t think it will be her last!

07 FEBRUARY 2017 | Habitat Cambodia Build by Lisa Hudspeth

We’re building!

The sights, smells, sounds and feels of Cambodia startle the senses — from a 5-story golden Buddha which presides over a traffic circle to the terra cotta fences which show Warriors in period dress playing tug of war with a multi-headed snake. A family of seven packed onto a motor scooter plays chicken with our bus– a miasma of fishy smells surrounds the city– the aroma and tastes of the delicious Cambodian food we have been served — a tabby cat cleans herself in the the sun atop a Russian tank with its floor missing from a land mine– the 90 degree weather is in stark contrast to the winter we left behind. The background of this far away and exotic location doesn’t change what we are here to do. In this war-torn country, the need for decent housing is exceedingly great.

The two families that we are helping are currently living in tiny wooden structures with corrugated tin walls AKA an oven in this hot Cambodian climate.

Today was our first day of building, and we got off to a great start! We were all introduced to a new building technique– a machine donated by a generous Canadian group turns clay, sand and a bit of concrete into Lego building block type bricks. Strong, even and easy to make , theses bricks insure fast construction and sturdy structure. Our walls on both houses are at about head height already!

One of the best parts of the experience has been getting to meet so many interesting people. Our group ranges in age from 20-somethings to 60-somethings– teachers , physical therapists, salespeople, construction workers, a retired military person who has been on more than 10 Habitat builds around the world- a corporate lawyer, a physician assistant, etc. How cool is this? Our Cambodian hosts are young and awesome– Pholly, who also doubles as the entertainment at breaks with his guitar and -Rish, whose larger-than-life personality means that talking with her hands isn’t quite enough for her– she gestures with her whole person!

I am really excited to see what the rest of the trip will bring and I am most excited about completing these houses for our deserving families. Best regards to all at home!

This post was written by Lisa Schick Hudspeth, ISA-AM. Lisa has participated in three Global Village trips with Habitat Wake!

06 FEBRUARY 2017: OF WHAT AM I CERTAIN?

Last week, in between Habitat’s annual U.S. legislative event, Habitat on the Hill, and the 65th annual National Prayer Breakfast of 3,000 participants from more than 130 countries, Habitat International CEO Jonathan Reckford paused to share this reflection.

Wherever we work, Habitat for Humanity has always sought inclusivity and has often served as a place where people holding disparate views can come together in common cause. In recent days, I have found myself again and again returning to the certainty of Habitat’s mission and vision and the faith principles on which we are founded. My hope is that, by revisiting these pillars of strength together for a moment, we may find a collective energy and clarity for today and the days to come.

So of what am I certain?

I am certain of Habitat’s vision: a world where everyone has a decent place to live.

I am certain of our mission: Seeking to put God’s love into action, we bring people together to build homes, communities and hope.

I am certain that:

  • We are a welcoming and accepting ministry.
  • We build with people in need of decent housing, regardless of their race or religion.
  • We welcome volunteers and supporters from all backgrounds.
  • We work with people of all faiths and people of no faith.

In my own journey of belief, I am also certain of the direction we were given in Matthew 25:40: “‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”

We have a particular heart for the marginalized in our world. Let us never forget that Habitat was born in a place marked by its fierce commitment to the equality of all people and its unfailing devotion to the creation of opportunity for all. People of faith and strong conviction called Koinonia home, living in the shadow of a community that did not understand, welcome — or in many instances — tolerate them. And yet, because a small group never failed to put their faith into daily practice, what would become our global housing ministry found its footing and its following. And in 40 years, we have helped provide safe and decent housing for more than 10 million people. The way we approach our work has been a vehicle for reconciliation and has broken down barriers between people. We work alongside those willing to partner with us, no matter their background or walk of life, and that will always be true.

We have chosen, as our means of manifesting God’s love, to create opportunities for all people to have decent places to call home. We firmly believe that no matter who we are or where we come from, we all deserve to have a decent life, to feel strength and stability day after day, and to know that we have the power to help build our own futures. In response to Micah’s call to do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly with God — and no matter the daily circumstances we might be called to navigate — we embrace the notion that we are all humans, and that every single one of us deserves an opportunity for a better future.

Finally, we believe that, in faith, respectful relationships can grow among all people, and that, through faith, all things are possible. The uncertainty of today — and tomorrow — will always be with us. The need for our hands, voices, prayers and participation is greater than ever. I pray that, like the wise man who built his house upon the rock, we will each of us hold tightly to our passion for and deep commitment to helping the families with whom we partner and to the unchanging principles outlined above, which I know you share so deeply.

Blessings,

Jonathan T.M. Reckford

06 FEBRUARY 2017 | Habitat Cambodia Build by Jean Sculati and John Twomey

Day 1

The 22 of us have all come together to build a home here in Cambodia. We come armed with different skills, strengths and expectations but a common desire to do good – to make a difference. That’s what makes it easy to quickly make new friends and meld together as a team — even in the heat!

We started our joint adventure with a morning visiting two different historical/cultural sites just outside of Siem Reap: The Killing Fields and The War Museum. This being Cambodia, history is quite dark. A brutal civil war, with the USSR and China backing different factions, led to the death of more than 8 million Cambodians in the ’70’s and caused them to have the dubious honors of being the most bombed country in the world (in terms of millions of tons of bombs dropped) and the most mined (that is military explosives) with more than 2 1/2 mines per citizen – 17 million buried all across the country. Even 20 years after the cessation of military action, more than a dozen mines explode every month causing deaths and injuries. Sorry for starting out so dark, but it drives home an appreciation of how lucky we are to be born in the U.S. and how much Cambodia needs help. So as we head on the bus from Siam Reap to Battambang to begin our home build, we contrast what we have learned with the pastoral scenes of rice paddies, pastures and contended cows that pass by our window and we offer thanks and commit ourselves to making a difference while we are here.

Jean Sculati and John Twomey

2 FEBRUARY 2017 | CAMBODIA

As part of Habitat Wake’s global mission, we are excited to depart Wake County today to take our first ever Global Village volunteer team to build with our partners at Habitat for Humanity Cambodia.  22 team members make up this initial team led by Habitat Wake board member, Michelle Pavliv, and Kevin Campbell, President/CEO of Habitat Wake.  Two additional Habitat Wake board members, two staff members, one AmeriCorps member and a broad range of community volunteers including a number of parishioners from Raleigh’s Holy Trinity Lutheran Church make up this diverse team.

We will be travelling to the City of Battambang to build cinderblock homes with families in need in that community.  We will also get the privilege of spending some time in the city of Siem Reap, home to the world renowned Angkor Wat temple and ancient city.  Battambang is home to just over 1 million people and is referred to as the “rice bowl” of Cambodia due to the abundant and fertile rice fields in the area.

Cambodia is located in southeast Asia and is home 14.7 million people, 35% of which live below the local poverty level of $.60/day U.S.  Many Americans remember the regime of the Khmer Rouge who ruled the country from 1975-79 and whose brutal reign led to the deaths of 1.7 – 3 million people and the infamy of the “killing fields.”  The team will have an opportunity to learn about this history which still has major impact on the country today.

Habitat for Humanity’s vision is a world where everyone has a decent place to live.  Where poverty is extensive so follows the need for housing.  Please keep the team in your prayers for safe travel and that the impact we have in Cambodia will be matched by a desire to increase our service to those in need—regardless of borders.

Look here for updates from team members throughout the week as technology allows.

30 JANUARY 2017 | AFFORDABLE HOUSING GIANT: BOB KUCAB

Since 1987, Bob Kucab has led the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency (NCHFA) and through his life’s work has made an impact on thousands of North Carolina families.  Bob announced his retirement last year and has been succeeded by Scott Farmer, himself a 17 year veteran of the agency.

During Bob’s tenure, NCHFA assisted 86,000 North Carolinians in purchasing homes and financed the construction or rehabilitation of 82,000 high quality affordable apartments for seniors and working families.  If that weren’t enough, the agency also provided 4,300 units of housing for low income persons with disabilities, 38 domestic violence shelters and urgent repairs for 31,000 homeowners.  NCHFA also has helped 30,000 North Carolina families avoid foreclosure, preserving more than $4 billion in community property values.

Financially, NCHFA has provided more than $14 billion in real estate activity, supporting almost 200,000 jobs and generating $1.6 billion in tax revenue.  The agency has kept its operating costs below 2% of financing acidity and maintained its AA bond rating.

Now that’s some impact!  North Carolina will miss Bob’s passion and skill for affordable housing.  Thanks so much, Bob Kucab for your tireless efforts on behalf of North Carolina citizens in need of housing!

 

26 JANUARY 2017 | HUD releases 2015 American Housing Survey results

In early January, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released its American Housing Survey (AHS) results. The AHS is conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau and is the most comprehensive housing survey in the country. It provides information on housing types, characteristics, and costs for both owners and renters.

The most recent results include 2015 statistics for 25 metropolitan areas around the country. In the Raleigh metro area, which covers Wake, Franklin and Johnston Counties, the median monthly housing cost is $1,034 per month. With so much growth in the region (Wake County is growing by 64 people per day!), it’s not surprising that housing costs are increasing, too.

As we grow, we must keep in mind the need for affordable housing. The AHS survey shows 21.8% of Raleigh’s households are cost burdened, meaning they spend more than 30% of their income on housing and may have difficulty affording other necessities.

At Habitat Wake, we believe that every person has something to contribute and something to gain from creating communities in which all people have decent, affordable places to live. This year, we’ll build 60 houses for families who otherwise couldn’t afford a home on the traditional market. We’re committed to increasing the supply of affordable housing and together we can do more to ensure everyone has a safe, decent and affordable place to call home.

You can visit the American Housing Survey website to explore more of the results.