Habitat for Humanity: Home and hope for the holidays  | VailDaily.com

Habitat for Humanity: Home and hope for the holidays 

Elyse Howard
Habitat for Humanity
Dan White with Habitat for Humanity presents keys to families for their new homes Sunday at Stratton Flats in Gypsum. Eight new homes were built for families in the valley.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

At our recent home dedication, despite freezing temperatures, the feeling of hope, gratitude and community truly made it feel like the “most wonderful time of the year.” We were excited to celebrate home with eight families earlier this week — creating the gift of home, a place where families can thrive.  

These families are moving into the homes they helped build. Each one has a unique story of persistence, but all had similar struggles to find housing — living in cramped or unsafe and unaffordable spaces. A house quickly can become a home, but the bigger reason for Habitat partnering with families is to help provide stability. 

I’ve watched some of these families grow up: They’ve worked so hard to build a life here, and what a gift that they can raise their children alongside grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. The familial supports were already in place, but we are helping ensure a safe place for their nuclear family to grow and thrive. 

Elyse Howard

Just as these families rely on Habitat for a housing solution, the community relies on the strengths of these families: An Avon police officer, a school district employee, a social worker are the newest members of the Stratton Flats’ neighborhood. These jobs are vital to protecting and enhancing our community. Essential employees deserve to be able to deepen their roots here and share in the many benefits of homeownership — from wealth building to better physical and mental health to having more time to spend with their families. And not many teachers, law enforcement officers or mid-level managers can afford the $1-plus million price tag of a home. 

I am so excited eight more families can spend their first holiday season in their home. It feels like a little slice of magic — their hard work made their dreams come true.  

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Beyond the home 

As I celebrated home and family with our newest homeowners, I reflected on how our work depends on partnerships. I want to take a moment to reflect on housing successes in Eagle County and beyond. It took many groups working together to create housing change that will impact families today and in the future.  

There is still a major housing crisis in Eagle County. There aren’t enough units for the people who live and work here. But thanks in part to leaders like our own Dylan Roberts at the state Capitol, the legislature passed several bills that will make affordable homeownership a reality for more people.  

Statewide, Proposition 123 passed in November, creating a permanent funding source across the state for affordable housing — without raising taxes. This feels like a win for everyone. Affordable housing is not a partisan issue, and I know this effort will yield opportunities for the future, allowing the workforce to build strong foundations for future generations. 

Here at home, I am proud of what lies ahead for future homeowners and with our Building Futures program. I am grateful for our partners who will help us triple the number of housing starts in 2023. The town of Eagle, Eagle County School District, and Eagle County Government have teamed with Habitat so we can serve more families. Our Building Futures program is set to expand, helping more families than ever navigate the system to get the supports they need. Thanks to the community for believing in Habitat Vail Valley and for seeing the good we do in partnering with families. 

I invite everyone to come to our groundbreaking on Third Street in Eagle, to mark your calendars for future home dedications. These moments remind me why we do this work, where we can all come together in hope and gratitude for homeowners.  

Elyse Howard is the director of development at Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley. Learn more about Habitat Vail Valley and our three-year plan, when we will double our home-building efforts, at HabitatVailValley.org. 

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