Habitat for Humanity Carpenters’ Ball fundraiser raises $850,000 to support housing efforts
Annual charity event will help fund the building of 24 homes in 2023
The housing crisis in Eagle County makes headlines each week, but the sold-out crowd at Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley’s annual Carpenters’ Ball put a dent in the number of homes needed by raising $850,000 on March 11 at the Grand Hyatt Vail.
“We are feeling overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from the community. The funds raised will go a long way to help us break ground on 24 homes this year. We are so excited to have the support of donors, local governments and foundations,” said Elyse Howard, director of development for Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley.
Twenty-four homes is triple the amount of homes that are built in a typical year.
“Last year, Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat International, challenged all affiliates to double their production. We will do just that: tripling the number of housing starts in 2023 and ultimately doubling to 40 homes and six recycled homes by the end of 2024. It is a community-wide effort: our board strongly supports this challenge and from the rousing success of the Carpenters’ Ball, our neighbors, our community and our valley is also in support,” Howard said.
Aiding in reaching $850,000 was a generous $200,000 match from an anonymous donor. That was quickly met and the donations continued to pour in throughout the evening.
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“Everyone in the room came together. They see this as not a handout, but a hand-up. This is helping our workforce stay, live, work and raise their families in Eagle County,” Howard said.
Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit, non-governmental organization that specializes in building decent, affordable homes, has been around since 1976 and now operates in 70 countries around the world. Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley has been in Eagle County since 1995. In December, Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley closed on its 100th home, housing 304 children and 159 adults over the past 28 years.
Habitat’s formula is tried and true. The nonprofit has partnerships with the community and those who are about to become new homeowners.
“We partner with local businesses who often deliver product or services free or at a discount. We work with local and state governments. In addition to partners, we rely on volunteers,” Howard said. “Each adult in a Habitat family volunteers 250 hours. Last year volunteers donated almost 8,000 hours — that is a huge cost savings for Habitat.”
Although affordable home ownership has been on Habitat’s radar for years, it seems like everyone is seeing how the lack of housing negatively impacts the entire community.
“When law enforcement officers and teachers can’t afford to live where they work, the community loses,” Howard said.
Habitat will build eight stick-built homes and will bring in 16 modular homes, which go up quicker than traditional homes. But, even tripling the number of homes for needy families is just scratching the surface of Eagle County’s affordable housing shortage. The Habitat office received 96 applications for this year’s build and it receives emails every day asking when it will open the application cycle again.
“There is a never-ending need but, as you know, over the last few years the need grew exponentially. There just are not homes available for purchase,” Howard said. “Short-term rentals and the influx of remote workers helped increase housing prices while decreasing inventory.”
The Carpenters’ Ball is always western themed with attendees encouraged to wear their cowboy hats and cowboy boots. Country band Tim & Taylor performed after the fundraising program. Antlers and Rosè boutique of Eagle had a “hat bar” where you could choose the hat style and color and add embellishments and purchase it right at the event with a part of the proceeds that night going to Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley. There was also a leather branding booth putting initials on everything from leather key chains to leather cuffs that go around whiskey glasses. There was even a “Yellowstone” themed photo booth complete with props and life-size standup cutouts of “Yellowstone” characters Kayce Dutton and Rip Wheeler.
“There really was overwhelming support for our mission — from bidding on auction items to the paddle raise, we’re always grateful to those who can and do support us. The local business community shines with their donations and for the public to buy tickets, that support goes a long way,” Howard said.