Blog - Habitat for Humanity of Wake County

20 APRIL 2017 | A home for everyone in Cary

On Monday, the Town of Cary’s Planning and Zoning Board considered a proposal by Habitat Wake to build nine homes off of Trimble Avenue. After a lengthy public hearing, the board recommended that the Town Council deny our application for rezoning of the land. We were disappointed with the decision and consider it a setback to our mission of providing affordable homeownership opportunities for hardworking families.

The case is scheduled for a vote by the Cary Town Council at their regular meeting on Thursday, May 25. Between now and then, Habitat Wake will continue to advocate for affordable housing with the Town of Cary and surrounding community.

We need your voice to help us amplify the message! Everyone deserves a place to call home. Here are several ways to get involved:

Sign on to our letter of support. We will send this to Cary Town Council members at the end of May:

Share your support for affordable housing on social media using hashtag #AHomeForEveryone. Tag the Town of Cary on Twitter: @TownofCary and Facebook: TownofCaryNC. Sample posts and Cary Town Council member handles are available here:

Contact your Cary Town Council member and tell them you support the project. You can look up your representative here: A template for contacting your council member is available here:

Attend the Cary Town Council meeting on Thursday, May 25, 2017 where council members will vote on Habitat Wake’s project. The meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. at Cary Town Hall (316 Academy Street). Arrive early to ensure you get a seat.

Speak publicly in support of this issue. Please contact Rachel Zeitler at or 919-744- 2424 if interested.

Help us build support by sharing this information with your networks. If you know someone who wants to help but isn’t sure how, please connect them to us! There is a role for everyone. Contact Rachel Zeitler at or 919-744- 2424.

Thanks so much for your support!

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I attended Habitat for Humanity’s global conference last week in Atlanta along with ten other Habitat Wake staff members and colleagues from around the world sharing in this great ministry to provide homes, communities and hope in God’s name alongside those in need.

At my opening session on Monday, Kerry Thomson, now CEO at Monroe County Habitat in Bloomington, Indiana and former co-worker of mine in Lynchburg, Virginia started us off with this scripture from Ephesians 3:20:

“Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to do abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine.”

I am pulled in by two phrases in this scripture:  1) that God’s power is within us and 2) that God provides more than we can even imagine.

I have seen this scripture to come to life in my years of service with Habitat and I expect to see it continue.  Our work is naturally challenging—trying to provide homeownership to a group of folks who don’t qualify for traditional financing—and it is through the collective “power at work within us” that it all somehow comes together in a glorious way beyond which we can even dream!


Newly appointed Secretary Ben Carson of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) visited a build site with Habitat for Humanity of Broward County in Florida on Friday. It’s Secretary Carson’s first visit with Habitat for Humanity and we’d like to extend our welcome!

Habitat affiliates, including Habitat Wake, have a strong, long-standing partnership with his department and we’re grateful for the work we’ve done together to serve our community. At Habitat Wake, we partner with HUD programs like CDBG, HOME and SHOP to address the need for affordable housing in Wake County. The support we receive from these programs is equivalent to 20 homes each year.

Funding from HUD supplements and leverages the support we receive from our generous donors and it enables us to serve more families. Habitat Wake is building 60 homes in 2017. Without federal support, we’d only be able to build 40.

The impact of this partnership in our community is clear. As Congress and the Administration consider federal budget allocations for 2018, we look forward to ongoing conversations about the importance of maintaining these federal housing programs.


Earlier this week, the White House released an overview of the president’s 2018 federal budget request. In it, the administration proposes to eliminate several federal programs that are critical to Habitat Wake’s work, including:

  • Community Development Block Grant (CDBG)
  • HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME)
  • Self-help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP)
  • Corporation for National and Community Service, which houses the AmeriCorps program

Habitat Wake receives support from each of these programs. We use the funds to increase access to affordable housing in our community by:

  • Purchasing land for new homes
  • Providing second mortgage loans to keep homes affordable
  • Building houses for families in need of affordable housing
  • Working to revitalize neighborhoods in areas where we build
  • Hosting full-time AmeriCorps members, who increase our capacity and enable us to serve more families

Cuts like the ones proposed would profoundly impact Habitat Wake’s efforts to build affordable housing for families who need it. Ultimately, it is up to Congress to pass a final budget, so our collective voices matter now more than ever.

Please take a moment today to call Senators Thom Tillis (202-224-6342) and Richard Burr (202-224-3154), as well as your representative. Let them know that these programs are vital to providing adequate, affordable housing in Wake County and across all communities in North Carolina.


Developing affordable housing is complex and challenging in many ways.  Then again, it’s not rocket science.  If the political will for affordable housing is present in a community and among its leadership, it’s amazing what can happen.  The depth of impact that affordable housing can have on a family and the wider community is remarkable and lasts for generations.

Check out this piece from HFHI’s CEO Jonathan Reckford about bringing housing back to the forefront of the conversation.

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!