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Building homes, community and hope

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By Mary Duggan and Noha Ahmed

(August 28, 2017—Baltimore, MD) With the support of over 3,500 dedicated volunteers, Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake helps low-to-moderate income families in Central Maryland afford a place to call home. 

But, not just any home.

According to Director of Communications Kate Sam, building cost-effective and earth-friendly solutions is what makes this unified mission feasible.

“All of our homes are built to Energy Star efficieny standards,” Sam said.“Building energy efficient homes is a great way to control our homeowners’ energy costs and ensure that they are financially healthy long-term.”

Although Habitat for Humanity is dependent on generous donations from corporations, public agencies and volunteers, going green is integral to the success of the nonprofit organization. No home would be complete without the inclusion of energy-efficient appliances, lighting and insulation.

“Our mission is to bring people together to build homes, communities and hope,” explained Sam. “We’ve learned that costs for building green go down every year, so it’s truly a viable solution, even for a nonprofit organization.”

The full-time staff of 80 wear more than just hardhats as they juggle roles. 

“We are simultaneously a housing counselor, homebuilder, developer, mortgage lender and community organizer,” Sam shared. “We work closely with them to create monthly budgets in which housing costs total no more than 30 percent of their monthly income. Keeping energy costs contained and educating them about the value of things like energy-efficient appliances ensure that they are set up for success.”

Each year, 15 to 20 partner families benefit from homeownership funded by Habitat for Humanity—but the impact reaches far more families in the community.

“We ensure that neighborhoods remain mixed-income and that homeowners reap the benefits of rising property values,” Sam said. “All of these neighborhoods have great assets like parks, walkable streets and access to both public transportation and major thoroughfares. Our work has made a huge difference in the trajectory of many communities.”