Habitat for Humanity: Homeownership leads to choices | VailDaily.com

Habitat for Humanity: Homeownership leads to choices

I had two uplifting conversations last week — both unexpected and both a bright spot in my week. Errands are a thankless chore. I left work slightly irritated that I had to spend another hour in the orthodontist waiting room waiting on my son’s wire change. I was feeling frazzled and short on time.

I ran into a Habitat homeowner in the waiting room, and it changed my day and my outlook. We caught up on life — what our collective six boys are up to, how work is going, and how life is moving along. She shared that as her husband takes on a larger role at work, she’s cutting back on her work hours. The four boys, with sports, doctor appointments and friends, are keeping her plenty busy. She wants to be available to them after school. Anyone with a teenager knows the best place to have a catch-up is in the car — they’re a captive audience, and it’s when I learn interesting morsels about their lives.

The conversation and her ability to choose what works best for her family struck a chord with me: They’re able to make choices in large part because of owning a Habitat home. She and her husband worked 500 hours on building their home 10 years ago. They have an affordable mortgage: Their home and their planning opened doors for choices that fit their family’s needs.

It brought me joy to catch up. It was an honor to be part of a team that helped make their home a reality, and their home is the foundation of their lives. “Our home has been a blessing. We are all thriving,” she shared.

Like every family, they make important contributions to our community. They are making a difference in their lives but also at school, work and in their neighborhood.

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Affordable homeownership allows for choices — choices that are made to support family decisions depending on the season of life. Homeownership gives families the flexibility to stay home, work more, further their education, retire or change careers altogether. And as most of us know, what fits today may not work a few years down the line.

The next day I had a conversation with a donor. While we were delving into the details of our work, he stopped me to talk about the bigger picture. He sees what Habitat does in the community — how affordable housing impacts the community, and without organizations that provide homeownership opportunities, the fabric of our community is threatened. Homeownership allows families to thrive here, to put down roots here, and make choices.

These conversations remind me that this is what makes living in a small community so good and so special. I was annoyed to go to the orthodontist, however, it provided the opportunity to catch up with a member of our Habitat family who is happy, healthy and thriving. It became the best part of my day and reminded me: This is why homeownership must be within reach for locals. This is why Habitat Vail Valley, Eagle County government, Eagle County School District, and local and state governments are harnessing the power of the community and building partnerships. This is why we need more affordable homeownership: the ability to make the choices that best fit your family’s needs.

I’m excited to see our community harnessing each other’s strengths to make a bigger impact. Together, I know we can triple our impact in 2023. I am excited about the year ahead and look forward to more conversations with many of you.

Elyse Howard is the director of development at Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley. Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley builds permanently affordable homes. In 2023, Habitat plans to start 24 homes — triple the average number. Be part of the conversation, volunteer or shop at the ReStore. Learn more at HabitatVailValley.org.

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