Affordable housing options go hand in hand with “building equitable communities,” which is the theme for this year’s National Community Development Week, April 11-15.
The City of Huntsville’s Community Development Office joins the National Community Development Association and its many coalition members to educate citizens about the importance of the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program.
Huntsville’s local Habitat for Humanity chapter, Habitat of the River Valley, is a coalition member and valued partner of the Community Development Office. The partnership began in 2006 with down payment assistance grants provided to new Habitat homeowners.
Recently, funding from Community Development has helped Habitat for Humanity build homes in northwest and northeast Huntsville. Pending contracts will soon allow Habitat to build homes in southwest Huntsville as well.
“With the explosion of growth in our City, it is imperative that we build affordable homes in various locations,” Habitat for Humanity of the River Valley Executive Director Myra Sanderson said.
The relationship between the two organizations has grown to assist in infrastructure development for a new neighborhood, being built in two phases off Meridian Street in northeast Huntsville. Community Development was a major funding source for four of the 10 homes built in Phase I. The second phase will have 20 homes, and Community Development will provide more than $339,000 for infrastructure costs.
“Habitat for Humanity plays a significant role in helping Community Development increase our affordable housing options,” Community Development Manager Scott Erwin said. “We have partnered with Habitat on their Mundy Meadows development on Meridian Street, as well as many other scattered site locations. Community Development has committed over $2 million to Habitat in support of local affordable housing since 2015.”
The partnership between Habitat and Community Development is critical for community-building.
“We are very grateful for the support we have received from our longstanding relationship with Community Development,” Sanderson said. “This partnership has changed lives throughout the city. It is the connection between volunteer and future homeowner that builds a relationship and understanding that families are more alike than they are different. This connection builds community.”
An equitable future
Both entities agree the path to affordable homeownership leads to more equitable communities.
“All these families [who live in Habitat homes] now have affordable homes that do not require a difficult choice between food, medicine or other of life’s necessities,” Sanderson said. “Having an affordable mortgage payment allows our families to plan for other life goals such as continuing their education or planning for higher education choices for their children.
“Of course, as home values increase, your personal wealth increases and can create generational wealth, but the equity created is more than dollars and cents,” Sanderson continued. “It is the strength that comes from security. It is the stability you have when you live in an affordable home that allows you the opportunity to provide for life necessities. It is the self-reliance that you now have because you have accomplished a dream that impacts your family.”
If you would like to learn more about Habitat for Humanity of the River Valley, visit https://habitatrivervalley.org.