Community Invests $9M in Affordable Housing with Habitat for Humanity

GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan, October 29, 2019 — Habitat for Humanity of Kent County is celebrating securing $9 million for its capital campaign to expand access to affordable housing in Grand Rapids’ Roosevelt Park neighborhood.

Habitat Kent’s “Bright Future Campaign” is a $9 million plan to build, rehab or repair 400 homes in the Roosevelt Park neighborhood—reaching approximately 1 in 4 homes throughout the neighborhood. 17 of those homes are currently under construction on the mixed-use Plaza Roosevelt site at Grandville Avenue and Rumsey Street SW. The nonprofit announced the public phase of the campaign earlier this year.

“We are overwhelmed by the community’s enthusiasm for this initiative and incredibly grateful to the donors and volunteers who have joined us in building strength, stability and opportunity in the Roosevelt Park neighborhood,” said executive director Bev Thiel. “This is the biggest, boldest undertaking in Habitat Kent’s 35-year history, and it would simply not be possible without the donors who have pledged contributions to the Bright Future Campaign.

“We also owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the Roosevelt Park neighbors who contributed their time, energy and wisdom to inform the vision for Plaza Roosevelt and the innovative programs Habitat Kent is testing through 2020. After this campaign, listening to and planning alongside neighbors is no longer something we are trying out—it is part of who we are.”

In total, 366 donors have made gifts or pledges to the campaign and volunteers have contributed roughly 9,000 hours to date. With the $9 million goal secured, Habitat Kent has more work to do. The campaign’s home building and repair activities will continue through 2020 and the nonprofit is already planning for future investment in Roosevelt Park and nearby neighborhoods.

Townhomes underway on Plaza Roosevelt site

About Habitat for Humanity of Kent County

Seeking to put God’s love into action, Habitat for Humanity of Kent County brings people together to build homes, communities and hope. As a neighborhood revitalization organization, Habitat Kent build homes and partners with neighbors and community organizations to improve access to resources and build a better quality of life. Established in 1983, Habitat Kent has helped more than 425 families in Kent County become homeowners, and has partnered with another 900 families to repair and improve their homes. Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage. Through financial support, volunteering or lending a voice to advocate for strong neighborhoods, everyone can help families achieve the strength and stability they need to build better lives. To learn more visit www.habitatkent.org.

Strong Futures

In the past year, Dini and Mansura have been surprised how their house transformed from just a plot of land to the beautiful home it is today. Their home was built in partnership with students from Grand Rapids Community College’s M-TEC Program. Since 2005, GRCC students have helped Habitat Kent build 33 homes. GRCC President Bill Pink attended the home dedication and handed Dini the keys to their new home.

“Our students are thrilled to do this kind of work because it gives them real-world experience and it also gives them that taste of actually seeing how their work brings about such good joy for families,” President Pink said.

“As we do well for others we do well for the whole community.”

Dini and Mansura have been living in a small apartment that seems to get smaller every day. Their son Nuredin (3) and daughter Amira (1) share the same cramped room and the apartment doesn’t provide enough space for them to play.

Dini and Mansura planned to purchase a home for their growing family but they were unable to qualify for a traditional mortgage. They were seeking a permanent housing solution when a family member told them to visit Habitat Kent.

“We had a plan but we didn’t think we’d get this opportunity in this short of a time,” Dini said.

They explained that because of the homeownership education courses Habitat Kent offers, their family is equipped to maintain their home for the future. Now Dini and Mansura have new plans for their future, including finishing the basement, preparing their children for school, and furthering their education to grow in their careers.

“I never imagined this,” Dini said about the Habitat experience, especially relating to sharing cultures with volunteers, donors, and staff members. Dini said he was humbled by the people who have donated their time and money to help someone they’ve never met.

“No matter who they are [Habitat volunteers] are helping everybody regardless of their background.”

Because of you, Dini and Mansura have a healthy, stable, and affordable home where their family can and plan for a bright future.

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GRPS Students Build Habitat Home

While most students associate the end of the school year with studying for exams, cleaning out lockers, and longing for summer, a group of Grand Rapids Public Schools students were celebrating a project that took the entire school year to complete.

Juniors and seniors at GRPS’ Academy for Design and Construction (ADC) spent the 2017-2018 school year partnering with Habitat for Humanity of Kent County to build a new LEED-certified home. More than 200 GRPS ADC students have partnered with Habitat Kent over the last 12 years, and this is the eleventh house they’ve built.

From framing in the humid days of late September to installing windows in the bitter cold of January, students had to learn how to work together to overcome obstacles with support from Habitat Kent staff and ADC instructors.

“We’re like a family because we built this,” said ADC student, Alex, at the end-of-year celebration inside the family room of the new house.

“It took a lot of hard work and teamwork.”

Students learn valuable hands-on construction skills as well as knowledge of energy-efficient home building techniques and materials. But the most valuable part of the program is that the students help a homebuyer build a safe, stable, and affordable home.

Cassandra, the homebuyer, applied for Habitat’s homeownership program because she had a need for housing, the ability to pay an affordable mortgage, and a willingness to partner with Habitat. She’s been able to meet and watch the students work on her new home this past year.

“I think it’s really important that [the students] learn how to build a house for their [own home] when they grow older and also if they work in the construction trade.”

Cassandra is working hard to wrap up her sweat equity hours, which include construction of her home and other Habitat homes, financial courses, and homeownership training. She hopes to move into her new home by the beginning of the new school year.

Every single task students completed, every single hour they spent on this house is going to make a lasting impact for Cassandra and her family, and even their own future. To close the celebration, Alex perfectly summed up what the program is all about.

“[This house] was built with love.”

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