Howard: 100 homes, and more to build
“We have more family time, are able to take the kids out more. Not all of our money is going towards rent, it’s a huge blessing. There’s extra things my kids can do because we have a Habitat home. Having a home helps families stay in the community,” shares Rosa, a Habitat for Humanity homeowner.
Eagle County will gain a teacher in this homeowner — she’s finishing her bachelor’s degree this year. Her children are less stressed. The family has plans to start volunteering this fall. All of which happened thanks to a safe, affordable home where Rosa firmly planted roots to raise her family.
Owning a home has been the American dream for generations. Unfortunately, that dream is out of reach for many who keep our community humming. As a community, we must strive for a full housing continuum — one that supports social and economic mobility — guiding residents through all phases and ages of life, from renting to starter homes to moving into a long-term family home and finally the options to support older residents.
Home ownership is a critical part of this continuum. Those who own their home are rooted in the community, which impacts the local economy and helps create more vibrant neighborhoods. At Habitat, we work with our partner families to ensure they have a safe and stable home, and it’s one they can afford.
Take Rosa. Her commitment to Habitat and hard work paid off for the community, the school where she works and for her children. As we break ground on our 100th home on July 29, there is much to celebrate.
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However, our work is not done — we have more to build. Whereas housing costs are prohibitive to many, we remain steadfast in our commitment to increase affordable housing stock and provide affordable mortgages.
According to the recent Mountain Migration report that measured COVID’s impact on housing and services, “Housing availability and affordability, which were by no means new problems, became significantly worse.” Home prices reached record highs, effectively decreasing the number of people who can live where they work.
This negatively impacts all of us. With rents increasing by 20% to 40% in the past year alone, we’re seeing more families living in unsafe or overcrowded situations. They are also spending more of their income on housing. The worry that comes along with not knowing if your home will be sold, or if you can afford the rent, is draining on families — even the youngest can feel the stress and worry. It’s unsustainable and negatively impacts a family’s financial freedom.
Homeownership = Wealth Building
Owning a home is currently the greatest single source of wealth building. According to the 2019 Survey of Consumer Finances, a triennial survey that collects detailed accounts of households’ finances, the median homeowner has 40 times the household wealth of a renter — $254,900 for the former compared with $6,270 for the latter.
Homeowners are wealthier than renters at every income level. At the lowest income category, 92% of total homeowner net worth is tied to the value of residential property. We will continue to be part of the solution, partnering with local families, helping them build a stable home, establish credit, build wealth and thrive in our community. We will continue to advocate for affordable home ownership as a critical part of our community infrastructure.
We are dedicated to creating stability, strength and self-reliance through shelter. We’ve increased our home building capacity by 30%. Ideally, we can do that every year, helping hardworking families stay in this community, where their families are, where their jobs are and where they love living. Right now, there is plenty of dialogue about housing. Let’s take action together: Speak up at town forums, voice your opinion on housing options, and be your community activist.
Elyse Howard is the director of development for Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley. Through her work at Habitat, she has seen the power of home ownership firsthand. She is honored to lend her voice to advocate for a housing continuum that supports vibrant communities and social and economic mobility in Eagle County and throughout Colorado.