Habitat for Humanity of Huron Valley (Habitat Huron Valley) was founded in 1989 when a few local residents saw a need to create more affordable homeownership opportunities for residents of Washtenaw County. As the 7th Habitat affiliate incorporated in Michigan, Habitat Huron Valley is proud to be recognized as a productive, progressive affiliate and are ranked No. 1 in the country for number of renovated homes, No. 8 in the state for number of families served and No. 1 in the state for the amount of dollars we send to build houses overseas focused in Haiti and Guatemala. To date, we have built or renovated more than 200 homes, and we look forward to continuing to create more homeownership opportunities in our community.
In 2007, Habitat Huron Valley made a strategic decision to grow. A study showed that nearly 900 households in Washtenaw County were in the 30-60 percent of Area Median Income (AMI) and without access to Habitat, would not be able to own their own homes. This study simply confirmed what we knew – Habitat Huron Valley had the responsibility to do more, to find a way to increase our production. Families with households in the 30-60 percent of AMI are rarely eligible for conventional financing to purchase a home.
Plans for development changed dramatically in 2008 when the economy crashed in Michigan and the housing market in Washtenaw County took a huge hit. The environment for fundraising changed significantly for all nonprofits: the economy was unstable, particularly in Michigan, and funders were understandably hesitant to make new commitments.
The path we took to achieve our goals had to change, but our goals remained the same and the need for affordable homeownership was greater than ever.We invested in our organization’s capacity with a successful switch to home renovations instead of construction, by hiring Rob Nissly, a volunteer and board member whose expertise is in renovations. At the same time we aggressively went after federal funding targeted specifically to address neighborhood stabilization. Over the next five years, from 2009-2014, we purchased and renovated 26 homes in and around Gault Village. We also solidified our role and commitment to a Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative increasing our number of families served.
Looking Forward to the Future
As we continue to grow and the needs of our community change, we continually look for opportunities to meet the needs of our community. While there are still many vacant homes ready to be renovated, we’ve also reacted to the need for help from non-Habitat homeowners who are unable to afford the critical repairs and weatherization work that is needed on their homes. We have the goal of renovating 20 homes per year, every year, by 2020 and we look forward to growing and adapting to our community needs in order to serve more families and enrich our whole community through a legacy of affordable home ownership. We believe that strong and stable homes build strong and stable communities.