Building Better Communities Through Affordable Homeownership
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George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis estimates that Fairfax County will need 83,000 new housing units by 2032 to accommodate the influx of workers. However, the median pay of new jobs over the next two years will be less than $55,000. With the cost of rentals and homeownership rising, new workers will struggle to find an affordable home in Northern Virginia, leaving them little choice but to live farther and farther away from where they work.
Besides cost, there is also the issue of availability. While the need is rapidly increasing, the number of affordable homes and rentals are declining. That need is apparent to Alexandria-based nonprofit, Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia (Habitat NOVA). Habitat’s Family Services staff and volunteer selection committee receives hundreds of applications for each home they build.
“Washington, DC is the most expensive major metro area in the country to raise a family today and the supply of affordable housing for working families in Northern Virginia is decreasing. Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia has helped hundreds of people in our community build better lives for their families through affordable homeownership. Over the past 25 years, Habitat has saved lower-income families in Northern Virginia more than $14 MILLION in interest payments on their mortgages – money that has benefitted these families and our community. On average, our Habitat homeowners have saved more than $180,000 in interest over the lifetime of their mortgages,” says Jon Smoot, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia.
How Does Affordable Homeownership Impact the Community?
Stability & Health:
Homeownership provides more than just a place to live; it gives families the foundation necessary to build a better life. Habitat’s program creates stability for homeowners and their families. Research shows that children living in a safe, stable home perform better on tests and are more likely to graduate and have fewer behavioral problems. Affordable housing also promotes better health. When housing costs are too high, people are not able to save as much money, put their money into medical insurance or even go to the doctor.
Homeownership creates more opportunity to save than renting does. Families have fixed housing costs. It also allows families to build generational wealth. Energy efficient homes, such as those Habitat NOVA builds, create further savings for families.
Affordable housing is central to achieving community goals of job creation and retention, quality education, social equity and less congested transportation systems. For communities to be vibrant, we need all levels of wage earners and affordable housing options close to where people work. When people are able to live near their place of work, there is a greater overall quality of life– they are available to their families, children (school events, sports, etc.); transportation costs and congestion decrease. Affordable housing helps employers attract and retain employees who want to live closer to where they work. It can make the difference between a company choosing to stay in Northern Virginia or move well outside of our regional area.
What Can You Do to Help Habitat NOVA?
Habitat NOVA has been working in the community for over 25 years. We have established relationships with community members and stakeholders and we continue to learn from the communities we serve.
Many people are familiar with our home-building volunteer opportunities and come from all corners of the community to help. But another great way support our work is by donating to Habitat NOVA through your company’s employee giving campaign, or through the Combined Federal Campaign if you’re a Federal employee. Here are some examples of how your donation can help:
- $25 – Provides a front door lock and key, opening the door to a family’s new future.
- $100 – Kitchen fixtures which help a family cook and enjoy family dinner together.
- $400 – Insulates the main floor of a home, keeping the family warm in Winter and cool in Summer.
- $900 – Carpeting for the bedrooms, providing a comfortable place for children to play and grow.
Our thanks to Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia (Habitat NOVA) for sharing their mission and impact with us. You can learn more about their work at www.habitatnova.org. To support their efforts, please donate to Habitat NOVA through your company's workplace giving program (CFC#10986 if you're a military or federal employee participating in the Combined Federal Campaign).