Celebrating 40 years of homes, communities, and hope
FORTY YEARS OF...
Habitat Chesapeake invites you to join us in celebrating 40 years of building up women as homeowners, volunteers, construction industry workers, and so much more. Read our stories below!
I’m really proud to work at Habitat. It makes me happy, and it’s about embracing my values. I was a single mother, and that was my concern: making sure that my kids lived in a safe, decent, affordable home. The majority of our homeowners are single mothers with children, and for me, it highlights that women generally want the best for their children. Providing that home is one of the most important things that a mother can do.
One of the things that I love about the idea of Women Build is that women are powerful, and women get things done. It takes a lot of work to get a Habitat house, from financial training to sweat equity. I find our women homeowners very inspiring because of how hard they have to work. It inspires me every day.
This is what we call the “theology of the hammer” at Habitat: for women to come out and meet other women that they might not have ever met, and realize these women want the same exact things for their children. It really breaks down barriers.
We have a powerful group of women leaders. I believe that it is important to empower women and encourage them. I really think the world is changing — I can see it.
Thank you for being a part of the change.
Candice Van Scoy, Habitat Chesapeake CFO
Did you know? 3 in 5 women surveyed by Habitat say they cannot afford to purchase a home that meets their current needs in their family’s neighborhood.
Home affordability impacts everyone. In Maryland alone, 1 in 7 households spend half or more of their income on housing costs – that’s money that they can’t put aside for medical costs, transportation, school supplies, or meals.
But now, more than ever, women in particular are contending with rising costs of housing. Homeownership is undoubtedly a women’s issue, encompassing the success of children and families. Like Carmen, many of Habitat Chesapeake’s homebuyers are single mothers and the heads of their households. Out of 23 of our active partner families currently in our Homebuyer program, 19 of them are women-led households.
Mothers are facing the challenge of raising their families during a time of unprecedented housing cost inflation. The Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance 2019 report found that 51% of female-headed households have children under 18 — and that was before the strain on finances caused by COVID.
Carmen, a mother of three, came to Maryland from New York on her own with few resources. After living in a shelter, she gained employment in Baltimore in the medical system. Like many of our homebuyers, she heard about Habitat Chesapeake through word-of-mouth from a female friend.
“I got to Habitat through a friend. She was the one who was applying; I thought I was ineligible. Once she filled out the application at Habitat, she said, why don’t you try? That’s the purpose of it – for families who can’t afford to have a chance [at homeownership].”
After separating from her husband, Carmen lived in a shelter, and felt she lacked the skills needed to reenter the workforce. Like many women, Carmen had been working full-time as a stay-at-home mother, but she took the opportunity to take courses while living in the shelter to broaden her options. “I was always home with the kids, so I didn’t know anything. Once I got to the shelter, I started going to school, started learning a little computer [skills] and math.”
From living in a shelter to owning a home for her family, including a son with autism, Carmen’s story shows how so many mothers and women just need a helping hand up. A national shortage of affordable housing means that more families are stretched each month, and when families pay more of their income on rent or mortgages, even a minor financial setback – like a car repair or medical bill – can impact their ability to keep up with payments, and maybe even lead to losing their housing. For many women, this can destabilize and uproot their entire families, including children and grandchildren.
“The fact that I have a house – I can’t even tell you how exciting and great it is,” Carmen says. She currently works evenings at Johns Hopkins and seasonally in retail.
“It was incredible,” says Carmen of the experience in the homebuyer program. “I met a lot of great people. It was a little challenging at first, because I had a couple jobs I was doing, and I had to do the [sweat equity] hours. I miss so many wonderful people, I learned so much, so many things I didn’t know that I had the skills to do.”
Habitat homebuyers learn a variety of skills while earning their “sweat equity” hours, which is time spent working on Habitat homes, in the ReStores, or performing other service in the neighborhoods Habitat works in. “I learned how to do so many things, like paint my house. I’ve been here already for 8 years. I learned this! I realized I could do this, because when I was at Habitat, I painted all these houses.”
Habitat’s homebuyer program supports partner families in learning construction skills and maintenance, but also financial knowledge that will better prepare them for the future. Through this partnership, Habitat empowers women like Carmen to be homeowners and experts on their own finances.
It’s great to say that it’s your own. Wow, I accomplished this. I didn’t know that I could do it on my own. I didn’t know that I was able. Habitat has shown me that I can.
“I see […] how caring people are, how you need to give back, and because of that, I have my house. A lot of amazing people effortlessly do things. It was good.”
Habitat homeowner Jane, who recently paid off her mortgage in Sandtown, spoke to us about how critical it was for her family’s growth and development to have a stable home where her children could attend school locally and build a strong foundation for the rest of their lives.
“Being a homeowner wasn’t just about me – it was about my family, my community, it was being part of a bigger picture, and I think everybody should have the opportunity to be able to call something their own, something that they can build and know that it’s going to be there,” says Jane. “And you can continue to pass it down to your family so that they too can have that great start, and then one day own their own homes.
For Carmen, this is more true than ever. She now lives in the Orchard Ridge development in East Baltimore, where Habitat Chesapeake built 30 homes between 2012 and 2015, and looks forward to constructing 27 more. “For me, it’s very motivational. I feel like I achieved something. I feel like I have something for my kids. You feel good, and it gives you the power to keep on.”
Above: Carmen prepares to speak at her home dedication. Below: Images of the Orchard Ridge development where Carmen now lives. Habitat Chesapeake has built 30 homes in this East Baltimore community and intends to build 27 more in the coming years.
Habitat Women Build teams have completed new homes, repairs, and renovations in 650 communities across the United States.
More than 5,700 homes have benefited from work from Women Build.
Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build program creates an opportunity to mobilize & train women. While men aren’t excluded, Women Build events specifically create an inclusive, collaborative environment intended for women to empower themselves and their neighbors with the tools to improve their communities.
This year, Habitat Chesapeake is pleased to announce the support from sponsors Wells Fargo, Prime Engineering, and M. Luis Construction, who visited our construction sites on Women Build days throughout May to help construct homes in the Baltimore region. Thank you to all the volunteers who spent time, energy, and effort working on homes with us — you make this mission possible. Watch the video here for pictures from the Wells Fargo Women Build event, and follow us on social for updates from our other groups!
Thank you also to Stanley Black & Decker and Capital Services for their continued support as we highlight the role affordable housing plays in women’s lives.
M. Luis Construction, a women-owned asphalt manufacturer in Maryland, spoke to us about the importance of supporting affordable homeownership for women and families, as well as supporting women in the construction field.
“Homeownership really is the foundation for success. Not just in terms of the community, but in terms of financial success, career success, educational success, and providing hope for the future.”
Watch our video to hear from our partner and learn how supporting Women Build also helps support homeownership and education across Central Maryland.