Critical Home Repair Spotlight: Sandra

Sandra Browne is a single, 83-year-old woman whose grandfather was an enslaved person from the Deep South. In 1884, after slavery had legally ended in America, her grandfather moved to the Seattle area to escape racism and discrimination, and to search for better opportunities for his family and himself. Ever since, the family has lived and thrived in Skyway, a neighborhood nestled between Renton and Tukwila.

As age and weather began to take its toll on Sandra’s home, she reached out to Habitat’s Repair Program for assistance when she noticed her roof was leaking. Habitat worked with a roofer to replace her roof, repair water damage, and install new fascia and downspouts. Inside her home, Habitat also repaired the ceiling in her bedroom where the roof had leaked. There were many nights before the home repair where Sandra found herself so worried about her bedroom roof caving in from water leaks—which was a valid concern—that she slept in other parts of her home.

The repairs to her home have given Sandra more pride in her dwelling, as well as a sense of security and safety. She said it meant a lot to have her roof repaired, so she could go back to sleeping in her bedroom, where she feels the most comfortable.

Being able to sleep in one’s own bed should be a nonissue. For many homeowners, however, especially low-to-moderate income homeowners and older adults, critical repairs just like Sandra’s can go unfulfilled. Having the right partner resources is a critical link. Habitat’s Home Repair Program works with homeowners who need assistance with critical repairs that will ease health and safety issues and increase their quality of life in the home. The program helps keep low- and moderate- income homeowners not just safely in their primary residence, but also in the community they know and love.

Learn more about the program here.

Habitat in the News KIRO 7: Repairs done by Habitat for Humanity help keep people in their homes

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.

Read the full article here.

Beyond the Build Luncheon Raises $1.7M to Combat Affordable Housing Crisis

Habitat for Humanity Seattle-King & Kittitas Counties returned to the Seattle Convention Center on Thursday, June 2 to host our annual fundraising luncheon Beyond the Build – held in person for the first time in two years. And, we are thrilled to report that it raised more than $1.7M to combat our region’s affordable housing crisis!

Emceed by KIRO7 anchor and reporter Aaron Wright and attended by more than 600 people, it featured keynote speaker Jessica Bruder, award-winning author of Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century. Bruder illustrated the clear connection between Habitat’s mission and the people portrayed in her novel and Oscar-winning film – specifically its Repairs Program, which helps to keep people housed and allows seniors to Age in Place.

Habitat Board President Kat Sims presented Bank of America with the Community Leader of the Year award. Habitat SKC’s partnership with Bank of America has spanned 25 years and incorporates engagement of its employees with significant financial support. In presenting the award, Sims said: “As a long-standing partner, Bank of America sets the gold standard for what it means to be a Habitat corporate partner. Since 1995, in King County alone, Bank of America has donated in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and filled more than 155 volunteer shifts across 19 different group volunteer days.”   

Kerri Schroeder, Seattle Market President, Bank of America who accepted the award stated: “Habitat for Humanity has been one of those steadfast partners for decades, so we’re deeply honored by this recognition as we continue to work together to find solutions that expand safe and stable housing here in King County and beyond.”

Bank of America’s partnership with Habitat for Humanity International dates from the early years of the Jimmy and Roslyn Carter Work Project and has continued to grow. Today, Bank of America’s contributions to Habitat for Humanity International total $75 million of support, with more than $55 million in cash and property donations.

Habitat’s Volunteer of the Year award went to Steve Hill for his service on the Weyerhaeuser Alumni Campaign. Steve led a group of eight retired Weyerhaeuser Company executives on a campaign to sponsor a “Habitat House a Year,” which resulted in pledges from 94 former colleagues who committed $1.18 million over five years to two Habitat affiliates. The funds Steve and his colleagues collected will provide housing for ten families over five years.

Additionally, luncheon guests heard directly from Habitat Partner Families about how their donations have made a direct impact on their lives and futures. Habitat CEO Brett D’Antonio declared this year’s Beyond the Build luncheon a resounding success, both for the generosity of those who attended and for the profound insights provided by keynote speaker Jessica Bruder.

All photos taken by Alabastro Photography.

The Move from Moldova: a Habitat Family Story

The Move from Moldova A Habitat Family Story

Alexander and his wife Nadiia lived in Moldova, where Alexander worked hard to provide for his wife and their 10 children. In 2009, they were able to come to the U.S. with refugee status. It has taken them some time to adjust to their new style of life, especially Alex and Nadiia who lived the majority of their adult lives in Moldova.

The family lived in Ohio for a short time and it was difficult for them; the weather was a challenge, and the area in which they lived was less diverse than what they were looking for. They moved to Seattle after visiting family and friends living in the area. They really liked Washington State, and thought it would be a nice place to raise their family. The younger children – Svetlana, Inna, Daira, and Alex- lived with their parents in an apartment in Federal Way. Space was tight in their apartment and the family had no concrete plans in place to become homeowners. Alexander was depressed, work was scarce and the family was considering going back to Moldova. Thus they were very excited to learn about Habitat for Humanity’s home ownership program.

Once selected, Nadiia and Alexander worked diligently alongside community volunteers and Habitat staff to build a home for themselves and their children. While volunteering with Habitat, they continued to be actively involved in their church community, helping with bake sales, teaching Sunday School classes, and doing church repairs (Alex spent one whole day repairing the church’s roof). Alexander says, “We have always taught our children to give back to the community in big and small ways.”

Since their participation in Habitat’s home ownership program, Alexander and Nadiia have been able to pay for their older children’s college tuition after saving more money than they were able too while renting. Their younger children are able to concentrate on school better than before and the family’s relationship with their neighbors have deepened. Nadiia has a garden where she plants flowers and vegetables to share with their neighbors. “We have more relationships now, we invite them to our home or we have a potluck… Habitat for Humanity homeowner’s program has given me, and my husband Alexander, and my family, hope and optimism for a better future. Habitat has shown us that everything is possible. We are never alone in our struggles as long as we keep faith and hope.”

The Fight to Stay Put: a Habitat family story

The Fight to Stay Put Habitat FS Blog graphic

Candy’s family was one of the founding families of Issaquah, having developed the neighborhood in 1887. She and her children were the fifth generation to grow up in the area. She hadn’t thought about leaving before but she struggled as a single parent supporting her children after her divorce and didn’t have a lot of other options. When she applied to Habitat for Humanity, she was a custodian working for the Issaquah school district. Since taking over ownership of her home, she’s become a supervisor and she can see the difference. “My employees can’t afford to live here, close to where they work,” she said. Trying to find housing in Issaquah was tough, especially when it came to renting.

For eight years, her family rented the attic of an old home from the 1890’s. “All of us were squished in two attic bedrooms. So yeah, it was tight, but you know, I was a single parent and that’s all I could afford… The kids were getting bigger, and it was getting tight, so there’d be fighting… It was ok when they were all little, but as they got bigger it was a little cramped.” Still, Candy only moved her family out of the attic because her landlord decided to rent the space to his daughter.

Candy ended up hearing about Habitat for Humanity from the principal of the school she worked at. After Habitat reached out to Issaquah Elementary, soliciting applications from local families for a housing unit they were building on donated land, the principal encouraged Candy to apply. And so in 1994, Candy received one of the first Habitat for Humanity homes in the area, built by the pre-merger East King County chapter. Alongside Candy and the Habitat volunteers, all kinds of people from the community turned out to help build her house. “The whole community bought into my house. The teachers did some work, helped paint it. One of the baseball coaches put the carpet in, my ex-landlord put the plumbing in… my mom and my dad had just retired, so my mom had him come down every day, like a job. And so he came every day and then my mom, a couple times a week, would make a lunch and bring it down so we would have something to eat… the mayor worked on my house… all of Issaquah helped build my house.”

The relief that came afterwards allowed Candy and her children to refocus their energy on things they hadn’t been able too before. “It gave me the opportunity to take extra classes, and then I applied for the supervisor job, which I probably wouldn’t have. I would have stayed a custodian… I was able to do it because I was secure, when you think you’re going to have to move, you’re not going to sign up to take classes… After I moved in, and stuff was settled, I was just like ‘I can do this.’… “My daughter said it made her more comfortable being in college, when she wasn’t worried about me and the house payments, and stuff like that… it kind of made everything just progress.”

Candy has been able to provide support to her children and grandchildren as they progress through college. She’s excited about retiring in her home since she paid it off in 2014 and looks forward to travelling more among other things. “I’ll have lots of time to garden!” She even hopes to have her ashes scattered around the big tree in her backyard. “My favorite thing is every day in summer, I get home, and take a nap in the hammock… It’s beautiful, with the green grass and the plum trees. It’s a nice, zen place to be.”