By Dasha Morgan – This month Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity celebrated the completion of five family homes on the Jon Kraus Way in Arden, pictured.
This Arden neighborhood is close to employers and near a transit line, located between Beale and Ducker Roads. On Thursday, May 3 a dedication and key passing to the new owners took place. Five families, the Norris/Hunter Family, the Parrott Family, the Moyski Family, the Chrisman Family and The Hutchinson Family all were given the keys to their newly built homes.
Some of the homes were open for a tour. Over the past few months volunteers provided approximately 1,650 hours of volunteer labor on each Habitat house, which keeps costs down and helps to make Habitat home ownership affordable for those purchasing them. The community all pitched in to help these families own a home of their own, something affordable and reasonably priced in a safe area.
Some of the builders were college students who came here over their spring break. In March, Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity had an influx of student volunteer groups, who spent their spring break working on construction sites. The participating Collegiate Challenge Groups this year were the University of Florida, Lesley University (MA), a Florida team, the College of Charleston, and the University of Wisconsin. They worked mainly on the Jon Kraus Way in Arden but some worked on the Shiloh Community Garden.
Construction Services Volunteer Coordinator Stephanie Wallace said, “We were so excited to welcome these Collegiate Challenge teams and other student groups from around the country. The amount of spirit and energy the students bring is infectious! We couldn’t be happier that these young adults chose Asheville, NC, and our Habitat affiliate to make memories and connections that will last a lifetime.”
The groups were housed at Blue Ridge Assembly in Black Mountain, allowing them to enjoy the beauty of the mountains with access to hiking trails nearby. Each group participated in a dinner with families who were in the process of becoming Habitat homeowners, allowing the volunteers an opportunity to get to know the people they are helping through their volunteer labor.
As May 5-13 was this year’s National Women Build Week, Habitat and Lowe’s worked together to build new homes. April 17th construction began officially for Women Build House #13 also on Jon Kraus Way in Arden. Volunteers worked diligently under the watchful eye of Construction Supervisor John Meadows to build frame for the walls and raise them. Several Blueprint Sponsors were present at the job site. Then on Friday, May 11th, in Arden Habitat and Lowe’s hosted a special volunteer work day, where volunteers worked alongside future homeowner Ashley Blankenship on this Women Build House #13. At noon they shared a potluck lunch, and a short speaking program was held with remarks from renowned cookbook author and homesteader Ashley English of Small Measure.
“Lowe’s is in the business of helping people improve and maintain their homes,” said James Frison, Lowe’s Director of Community Relations. “Lowe’s Heros have helped build hundreds of Habitat homes across the country, and National Build Week is another chance for Lowe’s to reinforce our long-standing commitment to Habitat, Women Build and communities where our employees and customers live and work.” Since Lowe’s national partnership with Habitat for Humanity began in 2003, the home improvement company has committed more than $63 million to Habitat and helped nearly 6,500 families improve their living condition.
Habitat is a partnership between homeowners, community volunteers and sponsors. Strong and loyal partnerships with local faith communities, as well as businesses like Avl Technologies, Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, Eaton, Johnson Price Sprinkle, and Wells Fargo, invest, time, money and friendship to build new energy efficient houses. Often employees of the sponsoring business help with the building of the home. Partnership opportunities range from single-day sponsorship at the $1,000 level to a full-house sponsorship for $55,000.
Much like the “barn raising,” in past American history, the community volunteers and the future homeowner work together to build an energy efficient affordable house. The Habitat homeowners themselves contribute at least 200 hours of “sweat equity” (volunteer work) and then repay a 30-year, affordable mortgage to Habitat. Habitat then uses this mortgage income to build more houses.
Sponsors provide the funding needed to purchase and develop land and buy construction material. In addition, the ReStore in Biltmore represents a sustainable funding source for the Asheville Area Habitat by selling donated home goods and building supplies at affordable priced to the general public. Proceeds cover administration expenses and help fund the organization’s building programs.
Founded in 1983 as the first Habitat affiliate in North Carolina, Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity (AAHH) has so far built 315 new houses and repaired more than 200 homes, providing 1,350 adults and children with safe, decent housing. Habitat for Humanity was founded on the conviction that every man, woman and child should have a simple, durable place to live in dignity and safety and that decent shelter in decent communities should be a matter of conscience and action for all. Habitat offers a “hands up,” not a “hand out.” Habitat builds homes and then sells them to qualified families at no-profit. Community volunteers help keep costs down. They also offer an affordable Home Repair program. For more information go to www.ashevillehabitat.org.