Habitat for Humanity Seattle—King & Kittitas Counties is heading into one of its largest fundraising weeks with its “Beyond the Build luncheon” — sponsored by KIRO 7 — coming up next week.
The group has hit some major milestones this year. KIRO 7 reporter Ranji Sinha spoke with Debbie Waters, who said the group’s work isn’t just about building from the ground up, it’s also working to keep people in their homes.
“I didn’t realize that they did the repair work.”
Habitat Home Repairs recipient Debbie Waters, who said she had lived with a rickety staircase for years.
Puget Sound, Washington (March 22, 2022) —American author and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott gifted $436 million in unrestricted giving to Habitat for Humanity International and 83 U.S. Habitat affiliate organizations, including four in the Pacific Northwest. The Washington State investment totals $15M and will impact communities in Clallam, Pierce, King, Kittitas and Thurston Counties.
Seattle-King & Kittitas Counties CEO Brett D’Antonio says, “We’re extremely grateful for this investment in Habitat. This historic and generous donation will have an immeasurable, multi-generational impact for families in our communities and our region for many years to come. The gift will expand our resources to maintain housing affordability when building and restoring homes and help fund land acquisition and home construction.”
In a region where the home affordability gap continues to widen—where, according to the National Association of Home Builders, 75% of residents are priced out of homeownership at the current median home sale price—this transformational donation will substantially further Habitat’s vision of a world where everyone has equitable access to a safe, decent and affordable place to call home.
South Puget Sound CEO Carly Colgan says, “We are honored and humbled by this unprecedented donation to our organization. This investment will help us increase our capacity and sustainability while growing our commitment to providing climate resilient affordable housing solutions. Ultimately, we will be able to serve more families in Thurston County, changing lives and bettering our community.”
In Washington State, 1 in 7 households are cost-burdened by housing, paying more than 50% of their income for a roof overhead and making it challenging to provide other essentials like groceries and medical care. Philanthropic gifts help Habitat affiliates keep entry-level homeownership a reality in our communities.
Tacoma/Pierce County CEO Maureen Fife says, “To be recognized with a donation from Ms. Scott is truly humbling. Our organization’s staff and board have continually refined and elevated the work, led by vision and strategy, hard labor, and boundless compassion for our community. Our top priorities will be to increase our capacity to effectively provide lasting housing solutions and increased stability for local families and individuals.”
According to the Federal Reserve, the net worth of a homeowner is over 44 times greater than that of a renter; the median net worth of a homeowner is over $230K while the median net worth of a renter is $5,200. Habitat’s mission was founded on homeownership, knowing it is a critical driver to build generational wealth and a leading indicator of strong health and education outcomes.
Clallam County CEO Colleen Robinson says, “As a rural Habitat Affiliate to be recognized with this gift is incredible. The impact of Ms. Scott’s donation to our community will be immediate and the investment will aid in our ongoing work to provide affordable housing to families across our rural communities. Our commitment to meaningful solutions to generational housing issues will be aided immeasurably by this significant gift, and we will use this funding to continue our mandate to build relationships and community through building and repairing homes for the people of Clallam County.”
With the help of volunteers, donors and supporters, Habitat homeowners achieve the strength, stability, and independence they need to build a better life for themselves and for their families. This investment in affordable housing from Ms. Scott will greatly impact our region, as the Habitat affiliates in Clallam, Pierce, King, Kittitas, and Thurston Counties work to expand capacity, bringing people together and building a world where everyone has a decent place to live.
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About Habitat for HumanitySeattle-King and Kittitas Counties
Habitat for Humanity Seattle-King and Kittitas Counties is committed to building the region’s quality of life, health, and economic prosperity by producing, preserving, and advocating for affordable homeownership – because homes and families are the foundation of thriving communities. Habitat for Humanity brings people together as volunteers, homeowners, and community members to create strength, stability, and self-reliance through shelter. To learn more visit www.habitatskc.org.
About Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity A neighborhood builder since 1985, Habitat for Humanity builds homes in Pierce County, partnering with families in need. As active participants in building a better future for themselves and their families, Habitat homebuyers make a minimal down payment and contribute sweat equity in building their home, then pay an affordable mortgage. To learn more, visit tpc-habitat.org.
About South Puget Sound Habitat for Humanity (Thurston County)
South Puget Sound Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities and hope. Founded in 1989, the organization works throughout Thurston County building affordable homes, providing critical home repairs and neighborhood revitalization. Habitat for Humanity provides families with the opportunity to transform their lives, gaining the strength, stability, and self-reliance they need to build a better future. To learn more, visit www.spshabitat.org.
About Habitat for Humanity of Clallam County
Housing is health care! HFH Clallam County has built 36 homes since 1991 partnering with families so their dream of homeownership becomes a reality. We continue to seek opportunities to collaborate with local businesses, churches and other non-profits to serve our community in multiple ways; such as work-force training, home repair program to preserve our aging housing stock and aging in place to assist seniors to stay in their homes safely. Habitat Clallam knows through shelter we empower. To learn more, go to www.habitatclallam.org.
About Habitat for Humanity International Driven by the vision that everyone needs a decent place to live, Habitat for Humanity found its earliest inspirations as a grassroots movement on an interracial community farm in south Georgia. Since its founding in 1976, the Christian housing organization has grown to become a leading global nonprofit working in local communities across all 50 states in the U.S. and in more than 70 countries. Families and individuals in need of a hand up partner with Habitat for Humanity to build or improve a place they can call home. Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage. Through financial support, volunteering or adding a voice to support affordable housing, everyone can help families achieve the strength, stability and self-reliance they need to build better lives for themselves. Through shelter, we empower. To learn more, visit habitat.org.
The location and condition of a child’s house plays a significant role in their physical, cognitive and emotional development and well-being, which impacts their education through improved attendance, better cognitive and behavioral health, and improved academic achievement. Making direct connections between housing and its impact on children’s education is challenging. However, studies have drawn a pathway between owning a decent, affordable and stable home and experiencing positive educational outcomes.
Key factors for education-promoting housing
Stable home environments raise young children’s math and reading test scores, and affordable homeownership is a conduit for greater residential stability.
Removing hazards and providing homes that eliminate overcrowding leads to better physical and mental health, development and higher educational achievement for children.
Studies have demonstrated that families whose housing costs are subsidized and can choose which neighborhood to live in have children who attend schools with higher attendance rates, graduation rates, and reading and math proficiency rates, along with lower dropout and violence rates.
Key place-based barriers to improving racial disparities in education
Black and Hispanic/Latino populations are twice as likely to live in substandard housing as white populations. Substandard housing conditions, such as exposure to dampness, mold, toxic gases and lead hazards, increase the risk of adverse respiratory outcomes and lead poisoning, which can lead to more missed instructional days and lower academic performance.
Children of color are more likely to experience housing disruptions and changes in school attendance fueled by unsustainable housing costs when compared with their white peers.
Black and Hispanic/Latino students are disproportionately concentrated in low-performing school districts when compared with white and Asian-majority populations.
On a warm Saturday morning in early October, we at Habitat for Humanity Seattle-King County opened the doors to 13 new permanently affordable homes where they had been illegal except for a special “Urban Village” area designation.
That flexibility built into the zoning for the South Park neighborhood – long reserved for only the biggest, most expensive housing, that is, single-detached houses, just one per lot – allowed us to welcome 13 new homeowners who now benefit from nearby jobs, schools, and transit. We turned one home into many homes: seven single-detached homes, two townhomes, and four mother-In-law homes or “accessory dwelling units (ADUs).” Such housing choices helped these families afford a place right now and helps stabilize prices overall by alleviating the housing shortage that’s pushing people farther from their livelihoods and communities.
It’s time for Washington state to join them and lay the foundation for addressing our affordability crisis, while simultaneously taking overdue steps to undo the racial discrimination built into our city rules.”
They didn’t know it back in 2006, but their first meeting working on a Habitat community in Snoqualmie Ridge set the framework for Doug and Kristina Copley’s enduring relationship. Now, as leaders of the Construction and Repairs departments at Habitat for Humanity Seattle-King County, Doug and Kristina work together as a couple as they pursue the same mission: lifting up their communities through their respective Habitat appointments.
These two hardworking individuals have dedicated themselves to hands-on construction at countless home developments, including Habitat’s Snoqualmie Ridge, Patterson Park, and Issaquah Highlands just to name a few.
After five years doing onsite, hands-on work, Kristina was compelled by an emerging movement throughout Habitat affiliates to help existing homeowners with their home repair needs. Outside of building new homes, the organization recognized that people also needed assistance to remain in their homes through repair and maintenance, especially seniors.
Habitat International’s Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative was initially created in response to the recession, and it’s remained a critical program ever since. Kristina expressed an interest in that department, and helped the Habitat SKC affiliate develop the program. From her post as assistant site manager in 2012, she ascended to repair program manager, and to her present role, Repair Program Director, which started last year oversee Home Preservation and Aging in Place services (click the link for more information).
Doug served as a New Construction Site Manager for about 16 years until he took on the Director of Construction role last year. Some of his credits include such Habitat SKC communities as Issaquah Highlands, La Fortuna, Lake City, and Sammamish. Generally, projects share two site managers for various phases. Today, Doug oversees all projects that are volunteer-focused and following the traditional Habitat model. He draws motivation from the positive experiences of what he calls a very rewarding job.
Kristina comes from parents who own and run a paint store together; they modeled for her what it’s like to work with a spouse. It’s also a fitting primer for a professional who would end up advocating for Habitat’s home repair program!
Although Habitat isn’t a family business, it has the same kind of reward, knowing that Doug and I are on the same journey.”
Doug added that working at Habitat shed light on the reality of homeownership. When it was time for the couple to buy their first home together in 2015, what was their pick? A fixer-upper! It certainly helps that performing home repairs and understanding the needs of aging in place come second nature to these two. Between Habitat careers, working on their own home, gardening, and spending time in the mountains, Doug and Kristina forge ahead with boundless optimism and compassion.
“I believe in the mission and our program: Everyone deserves the opportunity of homeownership,” Doug said. “It’s nice to be able to share that passion with the person whom you’re closest, and I appreciate that we spend a lot of time together, finding deeper meaning in the work.”