Habitat for Humanity of Huron Valley (H4HHV) 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, we are proud to be recognized as a productive, progressive affiliate and are ranked #1 in the state for number of renovated homes, #8 in the state for number of families served, and #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 over 200 homes, and we look forward to continuing to create more homeownership opportunities in our community.
In 2007, H4HHV made a strategic decision to grow. A study was commissioned to determine the number of households in Washtenaw County that were in the 30-60% of Area Median Income (AMI) range that we serve (for a family of three, that is a household income of approximately $32k), and it was determined that there were nearly 900 households in our community that, without Habitat, would not be able to own their own homes. This study simply confirmed what we knew – H4HHV had the responsibility to do more, to find a way to increase our “production”. Families with households in the 30-60% 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.
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 whoare 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.