Letter from our ED

This letter is hard to write. Leaving Jackson County Habitat for Humanity is hard to do. The conversation around housing is hard to have. Hard things have to happen, sometimes.

I have formally resigned from my position as the Executive Director for Habitat for Humanity of Jackson County, effective Dec. 31, 2019. The year 2020 will be new for all of us. As I planned this letter I thought about how I could say thank you a million times and brag a little bit about all of the good work that JCHFH has done in my tenure, but I’ll only do a little of both. What I want to convey is the importance of action, the importance of inclusivity, diversity, growth, and all the other words that signal change. So, I’d like this letter to be a conversation starter, a conversation that hopefully will ruffle some feathers and might possibly hurt some feelings.  My intent is not to hurt but to help facilitate the change that needs to happen.

Housing. We all deserve a decent place to call home. That is a slogan that we use at Habitat and it’s one that should evoke emotion for you.  Some people don’t have decent housing and it isn’t necessarily their fault. Did you catch that? It’s not their fault. We should and need to be more intentional when talking about those people who don’t have decent housing. It cannot be “those people” but “us”. People in Jackson County do not have access to decent, affordable housing and it is a social construct. We created this. Our decisions, over time, have created a community that lacks inclusivity. You should not have to be from here, or work a certain job, or have a certain income to enjoy a healthy community in Jackson County. As someone who did grow up here, we can be better than that, we have to.

This conversation, around balanced housing, is important for so many reasons. Support your people and they will support you back. Too many conversations and too many decisions are being made without community input. We cannot keep telling citizens to come to council or commission meetings to have their voices heard, we need to go to them! People don’t have time to go to the meetings, they’re busy working, feeding their families, going to school, etc. We need to have real conversations that represent real people that solve real problems. In no way will it be easy but it is absolutely necessary.

If you made it this far give yourself a pat on the back. Somewhere inside you, you care about the subject. Now, I would like to say a genuine thank you to this community. To each and every person that supported me in my role as ED, but more importantly supported the mission of Jackson County Habitat for Humanity. Our community is LUCKY to have a thriving affiliate right here in the backyard. Some communities don’t have an organization like this one. The leadership of JCHFH has worked tirelessly for years to grow an organization that will support the community. Trust them to do good work, give accurate information and lead the conversation on balanced housing. Support your local Habitat affiliate by giving monthly, annually, anytime the mood strikes! This organization is unique and I promise your dollars go farther and wider than you can imagine. I’m grateful for my time here and the critical work we have done. There is so much more to happen and I firmly believe that the next Executive Director will be equipped to lead the way.

-Kelly

Building Prosperity

Habitat for Humanity affiliates can often carry a negative connotation as the free housing provider. Or working with only “those” people. The goal of this blog is to do two things. One is to educate the reader about who we serve and the impact it has. The second thing is to highlight our upcoming luncheon titled, “Building Prosperity.” You will get a better picture of why we chose the title toward the end. 

First, our partner families MUST have income. In order to qualify for our services, a person(s) has to have proof of stable income. The reason for this is primarily because none of our programs are free. Each program has a mandatory down payment and no interest payments thereafter. It’s very similar to a microloan system. We are the upfront cash and the partner family pays back according to their ability all while be charged no interest. This fact leads directly to the impact of our services. Habitat for Humanity is a wealth-building organization. Yes, you read that right. We are in the business of wealth building. Allowing an individual who already has a tight budget to purchase a home with no interest or repair their current home with no interest, we have created the scary word, affordability. People don’t like hearing the term affordable, it sends off too many alert signals but it’s a reality. Our goal is to create a financial margin in the lives of those we serve. What does the margin do? It allows them to save more, spend more (locally), pay down debts, etc. Margin is safety, plain and simple. And that’s what we aim to do for our partner families. 

There is more than one way to find a margin for people. Too many of us are spending more than the recommended 30% on housing. In fact, roughly a quarter of the population spends more than 50% of their income on housing. If that’s the case then how do you save? How do you spend money downtown? How do you feel secure? The answer, you don’t. This outlines the housing crisis that we face in our country, state, and county. It exists here, people. We at Jackson County Habitat cannot solve the problem. We can be but a small part of the real development of physical structures. What we can do is bring people together. We can facilitate the conversation. We can advocate for quality, balanced housing that supports our community. Our event in October, Building Prosperity, aims to do just that, start a conversation. The goal is not to attack any person or group of people. It is not to simply promote Habitat building more Habitat homes. The goal is to get as many people as we can in ONE room and start a dialogue. We can build a prosperous community but it will be just that, built. It will not happen by accident. 

Let’s figure this thing called housing out and support the folks that live, work, and play in Jackson County. Join us.

NOW HIRING: Construction Manager (part-time)

Job Description: Construction Manager

Reports to: Executive Director

FSLA Status:  Nonexempt (Part-time 20-32hrs/wk.)

Function:  To manage Jackson County Habitat for Humanity (JCHFH)’s new house construction and repair programs that utilizes volunteer labor, and produces quality homes for low-income families in a safe, affordable manner.

Qualifications:

  1. Education/Formal Training:  Degree in Construction Management OR equivalent work experience; general contractor’s license preferred but not required.
  2. Work Experience:  3 years of experience in single-family construction management, or equivalent experience.
  3. Aptitudes: Ability to coordinate the construction of single family dwellings with volunteers and contractors; ability to supervise and manage staff/volunteers/contractors; ability to lift 80 lbs. or more; ability to operate company vehicles, construction tools and equipment; interest in working with disadvantaged families.
  4. Essential Responsibilities:
  1. Coordinate activities of new house construction, including but not limited to:

1) Purchase construction materials, tools and equipment, 2) hire subcontractors where needed, 3) pull appropriate permits and call for inspections, and 4) oversee new house construction.

  1. Serve as liaison for Construction Committee, attends board and executive committee meetings when necessary.
  2. Ability to work Saturday’s
  3. Prepare sites for construction.
  4. Assist homeowners in the following activities, including but not limited to:

1) monitor sweat equity hours when on site, 2) educating homeowners in routine house maintenance, 3) conducting punch list for closing, 4) conducting warranty work.

  1. Coordinate volunteers ranging from beginner to skilled in construction tasks.
  2. Organize experienced volunteers to lead work groups.
  3. Responsible for quality control, including review of contractor and volunteer work.
  4. Responsible for safety at construction site, including but not limited to:

1) implementation of emergency plan, 2) ensure that equipment and tools are in good working condition, 3) train volunteers in safety practices, and 4) monitor volunteers, including minors, to ensure safe use of tools and equipment according to age, skill and OSHA and HFHI regulations.

  1. Work with ED to set project budgets for houses and make adjustments accordingly.
  2. Review billing statements and authorize payment accordingly.
  3. Executes pertinent responsibilities of fiscal policies, i.e. credit card.
  4. Work with ED to obtain in-kind donations of material and services.
  5. Maintain order and upkeep of construction storage.
  6. Represent JCHFH at events, and attend conferences/trainings as needed with associated travel.
  7. Supports the mission and programs of JCHFH.
  8. Other duties as assigned by the Executive Director.
  1. Physical Demands: Strenuous activity requiring ability to sit, walk, carry, push, pull, lift 80 lbs., climb, and bend.
  2. Working Conditions: Exposure to extreme temperatures, loud noises, and other various adverse working conditions associated with outdoor work.

 

 

Please reach out to us for more information!

Send resume: admin@jacksoncountyhfh.org

706-387-0242

Critical Home Repairs?

What is a CHR?

A critical home repair consists of extensive interior or exterior work to address health and safety issues or code violations. Critical home repair includes activities such as a change to or repair of materials or components; a reconfiguration of space; a modification for accessibility; or installation or extension of plumbing, mechanical, or electrical systems on an existing structure. 

Does JCHFH perform CHR’s?

To summarize, a Critical Home Repair is addressing a larger safety and livability need for partner families. Through our research and identifying Jackson County residents’ needs, we decided to enter this space and make a difference. This program is in addition to our normal new construction and home accessibility programs. Our community is made up of individuals that own their homes but do not have excess income to keep the home in a safe condition. Our goal is to come alongside each homeowner and offer a discounted, interest-free, microloan to make the necessary repairs. Our team, volunteers, and local contractors all come together to make these projects happen. 

How many have been completed?

We saw a need and made the organizational changes necessary to address the need. We are excited to announce that our first CHR is in progress! Our partner family worked with us to have several plumbing issues and a sinking foundation corrected. We are also working to install an HVAC system and update the windows. 

Want more information?

If you or someone you know is in need of home repairs please reach out to us! Contact Stacey at 706-387-0242 or shammond@jacksoncountyhfh.org for more details. 

Meet the Butts Family

 

For over a year Ms. Butts has been working diligently in our New Homeowner Program to prepare for this moment. The moment when the construction of her home begins. She is a single mother of three awesome kids and is ready to start this new chapter in her life. 

As an organization, we are thrilled to have Ms. Butts as a future homeowner. She exemplifies hard work and dedication to this process. As you know, being a Habitat Homeowner is not easy. In fact, it is much more time consuming than regular homeownership. Find more info in our last post HERE

 

 

When talking with the group of donors and sponsors at the groundbreaking ceremony Ms. Butts shyly said, “Thank you, just thank you for this opportunity.” While she is quiet her grin was screaming excitement. This is a life-changing opportunity for Ms. Butts and her children and she knows it. She and her family have been in the Jackson County community their entire lives. Since Ms. Butts has been taking care of her three kids she has not been able to maintain consistent living arrangements. The rent costs are incredibly high for a family of four. Even with her working full time the amount going to housing each month was well over the recommended average for sustainable living, 30%. Rental properties are hard to find, especially those that are safe for three young children. In many cases, a savings account was foregone for rent and other living expenses, namely caring for her children.

74% of Habitat Homeowners are better able to save money after moving into their home. 

Now, in a partnership with Jackson County Habitat for Humanity, Ms. Butts is getting the opportunity to build and buy her own home. A home that will remain affordable, not exceeding 1/3 of her income. This home is a launching pad for her as well as her children as they make their way through school and on to the next phases of their lives. Lives are being changed in this program and right now its time for the Butts family.

98% of Habitat Homeowners feel their quality of life is as good or better than before buying a home.

 

Before this build gets into full swing we need to thank the sponsors responsible for making it happen. 

– 12Stone Church

– Jackson EMC Foundation

– Publix Super Markets Charities

– TranSouth Logistics

– First Commerce Bank

 

Let’s build a house!! 

 

P.S. – If you or your business is interested in getting involved in our building efforts please contact Kelly @ kmoates@jacksoncountyhfh.org or 706-387-0242.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What does it mean to be a Habitat Partner Family?

The homeownership program with Habitat for Humanity is unique. For starters, there are many misconceptions and misnomers when it comes to the partnership that we have with our homeowners. They are just that, homeowners. The process looks remarkably like a traditional home buying scenario. The same regulations that your typical mortgage lender follow are the same ones that we follow throughout the process. We are certified, loan originators, within the confines of the organization. All of the notices and red tape still exists and our homeowner partners sign a promissory note and security deed at the completion of the build, just like every other homeowner.

While the differences between our program and traditional home buying are minimal, they tend to make the process more difficult, not easier. Things our homeowners must do:

The Beginning:

-Apply, qualify, submit to a site visit, complete an in-person interview, be selected, sign homeowner agreement

The Middle:

-Complete 300 sweat equity hours, attend six financial classes, one on one coaching with our Family Services Manager, help build their house

The End (or more realistically, the start):

-Enter a 6 month lease period to ensure a smooth transition, close on the home and begin paying an affordable mortgage

This message is important, our families are HOMEOWNERS. Our program is truly a partnership. It cannot be one-sided. As an organization, we require a strong level of buy-in because that is where change happens. When our goal is to end generational poverty the program cannot be lax. Accountability matters and our homeowners rise to that challenge.

*GET READY FOR HOUSE 17 COMING SOON IN COMMERCE, GEORGIA*

ReStore: How it works?

How does the Habitat ReStore store play into the mission of our organization? 

Our ReStore is first and foremost a fundraising tool. The purpose of opening and maintaining a store of that size is to generate revenue. Those revenues go directly into our annual budget. Currently, we use those funds to cover as much overhead and general operations as possible and we are able to cover 90% of all general operating with ReStore proceeds. We consider this a tremendous blessing to the overall mission of JC Habitat for Humanity. The Store allows us to fundraise directly for programs and services, including our new construction, home maintenance, large repairs, and homeowner education. 

The Model-

Our Store has one full-time manager and four part-time team members. These individuals are the glue that holds the store together. We love and encourage volunteerism at the Store as well as offer a safe space for people to complete community service hours. With the store occupying more than 15,000 square feet and being open six days a week its operations are no accident. It requires considerable intentionality to make that thing tick. The ReStore carries everything from basic household accessories and clothes, to large furniture and building supplies. It truly is a place to find everything.

Why should you donate to our Store?

Because we value your gift. It means so much to us that you would choose our mission to support with your donations. In addition, you’ll get a donation receipt AND we do free pickups!

Why should you buy from our Store?

First, the money you spend in our store has many different paths. You could be supporting the staff serving you. You could be purchasing building materials for a much-needed project. You could even be supporting vulnerable mothers and children in developing countries. That’s right, because we are Christian housing ministry and believe in the power of tithing, we give a portion of our revenues every year to orphans and vulnerable groups in other countries. These funds are used to provide food, water, and shelter for those in desperate need worldwide. We want to be as transparent as possible with the use of our funds and our board and staff collectively do a wonderful job of stewarding the dollars that are raised at the ReStore.

Why we don’t negotiate prices-

We are serious when we say that we are fundraising for a mission and purpose. Our Store is not a junk store nor is it a place for you to get your bargaining fix. We take our product seriously and let’s be honest the prices are already ridiculously low, often 75% or more off market value. We will not devalue our mission to provide safe, decent housing on the basis of price negotiation. The prices will drop in accordance with the length of time on the sales floor. While this may come across as stern please understand that our top priority is to carry out the mission of Habitat for Humanity in Jackson County. 

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Hopefully, you made it this far. Can you tell we are passionate about our ReStore and its purpose in our organization? We hope that through this post you have learned about and gained an appreciation for our ReStore. Come see us!

 

ReStore location and hours:

661 S. Elm Street

Commerce, GA 30529

Monday – Saturday, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm

 

Ante Up for Habitat

Welcome to a Night in Vegas featuring poker, blackjack, craps, and roulette. The red carpet will welcome you inside to a night of gaming and fellowship. We will have sensational food and beverages for you to partake of throughout the evening. With the sounds of Sinatra and the feel of Vegas, this night is sure to be one for the books. Break out the gowns and button ups because you’ll want to grab a photo of you and your friends in our on-site photo booth. Attendees are encouraged to eat, drink, and be philanthropic!

Our fundraising will go directly to supporting our housing and education programs here in Jackson County. With a goal of raising $10,000 from guests alone, we will have our work cut out for us. Be bold like Sinatra and let’s raise some money!!

Tickets are on sale now, $50 per adult. Register here

Please contact us at 706-387-0242 or kmoates@jacksoncountyhfh.org with any questions.

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 424

Jefferson, GA 30549

Meet the folks we serve

Meet the Cofer family. They have been married for almost thirty-nine years and seventeen years ago they became Jackson County Residents. We received their application as a referral from Jackson EMC as they were in need of a handicap ramp. This particular project was tough to complete due to nasty weather conditions. It seemed like every week brought rain or frigid temperatures, things our volunteers and staff are awesome for enduring. This family was phenomenal to partner with.

As a reminder, each family signs a partnership agreement prior to the work being done to ensure they understand the scope of the project and the costs associated. No project is free. Our partner families contribute a down payment of $50 and then agree to make affordable, interest-free, payments on materials costs. The payback is determined by their income and often times families only pay a portion of the costs back to JCHFH. It requires faithful donors to help with the upfront costs to make these projects sustainable.

Back to the Cofer’s, while they were not able to assist, physically in the building of their ramp they did take their sweat equity seriously. On several occasions, they have provided coffee, lunch, and brownies to our worker bees as an additional thank you/payment. It is not every day that we see this level of generosity from our partner families. The Cofer’s were just SO thankful for each person that came to give time to make their home more accessible. Unfortunately, Mr. Cofer has had to make a few hospital visits lately but it goes to show the effectiveness and need of our program. They truly needed this ramp and again, our donors made it possible for us to act quickly.

These stories are not fiction. Mrs. Cofer is beyond sweet and forever grateful as is her husband and they really needed our help. Jackson County Habitat for Humanity exists for this very reason. And our leadership is working diligently to grow this organization in a way that ensures more families like the Cofer’s can get the help they so desperately need.

If you have not given to support this cause now is the time. We would love for you to join us in this effort. Jump over to our Hope Builders Club page to find out how.