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The President & CEO's Blog

From John Paukstis, Habitat for Humanity of Metro Maryland, Inc.

Groundbreaking for New Construction

We are very excited about breaking ground for the new construction of Universal Design, single family houses in Prince George’s County.  On Friday, March 22, over 50 members of the community, consisting of government, business, faith groups and members of the Habitat Board of Directors, attended a ceremony to launch the building of an affordable and healthy house in the Town of Fairmount Heights.

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The vacant lot where the house will be built was purchased by Habitat from Prince George’s County.   Several other single family lots are in Habitat’s pipeline for new construction as well.

About Universal Design Homes…..

Universal Design focuses on building homes that are accessible to all regardless of age or ability, accommodating families throughout their life cycle.  For example, a no step entry makes access easy for parents with strollers and those in wheelchairs. Also, each home has two bathrooms, one with a walk in shower and the other includes a tub with a seat for easy bathing of children.  We’re excited about this flexible and thoughtful design focused on a family’s needs over many years.

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Special thanks go to Stephanie Anderson, attorney with O’Malley, Miles, Nylen & Gilmore, P.A., and a member of the Habitat for Humanity Board of Directors for providing the Welcome & Overview.

Special remarks were given by Congressman Anthony Brown, Maryland’s 4th District, Ken Sonner, Senior Vice President, Old Line Bank, and Eddie Quinn, Chief Financial Officer, TW Perry.

A blessing of the construction site was provided by Pastor R. Kevin Matthews, The Shepherd’s House ICC.

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In addition to Stephanie Anderson, other members of the Habitat board included Vice Chair, Loretta Sevier, and Edward W. Hummers, Jr., and former board member Buck Bartley, The Bartley Corp.

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We were pleased to have Marvin Turner, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Jolene Ivey, Prince George’s Council Member District #5 join the celebration as well.

Habitat for Humanity believes that housing affordability is a fundamental human right.  You can get more information about our work by visiting our web site  www.habitatmm.org

Habitat is currently taking applications for homeownership as well!

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Action in Montgomery (AIM)

Last Thursday, hundreds of faith based community residents attended a rally at Bethel World Outreach Church in Olney.  The purpose of this meeting was to secure commitments from Montgomery County government officials for equity in education, immigration, and affordable housing.  I was impressed by the great energy in the room and the wonderful music provided by the Bethel World Outreach Choir.

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Bethel World Outreach Choir

In attendance was Marc Elrich, County Executive, and County Councilmembers Evan Glass, Hans Riemer, Will Jawando, Sidney Katz and Gabe Albornoz.

Bishop Darlingston Johnson, Pastor of Bethel World Outreach Church welcomed everyone to the church followed by an opening prayer by Pastor Haywood Robinson III, Peoples Community Baptist Church.

There were several questions for elected officials in attendance:

Education

  1. Will you (county officials) commit to expand the Excel Beyond the Bell Elementary program, including parent leadership training, to at least two additional schools this year? All confirmed their support for education.
  2. Will you commit to funding school construction for South Lake and Burnt Mils in the FY 2020 Capital Budget? All confirmed their support for more school funding.
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Councilmember Katz
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Councilmember Albornoz

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Councilmember Glass

Immigration

  1. Will you sustain or increase the $370,000 in grants to fund legal services for residents at-risk of deportation or in deportation proceedings during FY 2020? The County Executive plans to increase grant funding in the FY 2020 budget and councilmembers voiced their support.
  2. In the next two weeks, will you send AIM a list of 5 partners with whom we can jointly meet to ask for additional funding? All confirmed their support.
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Councilmember Jawando
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Councilmember Riemer

 

 

 

 

 

 

Affordable Housing

  1. County Executive Elrich has committed to write a letter to the WMATA Board (Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Area), asking them to halt the sale or lease of WMATA land in Montgomery County until they meet with AIM and our elected officials to prioritize affordable housing on this land. All agreed to support this strategy.
  2. County Executive Elrich, we are asking you tonight to use your power to identify 3-5 parcels of public land for affordable housing development in the next 3 months, and to start the process of developing them by the end of the calendar year. County Executive Elrich said he thinks he could identify 3-5 parcels of land for affordable housing development.
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County Executive Elrich

This session was followed by a Call to Action by Pastor Charles Tapp, Sligo Seventh-day Adventist Church

The closing prayer was led by Pastor Chris Posch, St. Camillus Catholic Church.

For more information about AIM click here

AmeriCorps Week

Do you know anyone who served as a member of AmeriCorps?

AmeriCorps members play a vital role in contributing to the mission of creating affordable housing and responding to disaster relief in many parts of the U.S.  Many members volunteer on Habitat construction sites and in Habitat offices for one to two years, then go on to continue their education or are hired by nonprofit or for profit corporations.

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AmeriCorps is a voluntary civil society program supported by the U.S. federal government, foundations, corporations, and other donors engaging adults in public service work with a goal of “helping others and meeting the critical needs in the community.”  www.nationalservice.gov

The AmeriCorps program is often seen as a domestic Peace Corps. It employs more than 75,000 Americans in intensive service each year for a small stipend.  Habitat affiliates alone have hosted more than 10,600 members to date that have provided more than 17 million hours of service, engaged 3.9 million volunteers, and served 115,500 families.  These members play a critical role in increasing the capacity of non-profits to serve more families across the country.

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We celebrate and thank those who have served with our affiliate over the years.

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Support Accessory Apartments (ADUs)

I testified at a public hearing on February 26th in support of Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) 19-01 that loosens the requirements for increasing the production of ADUs in Montgomery County.

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Our county has large areas of single family detached zones with homes that are unaffordable to many.  Oftentimes, restrictive zoning policies lead to segregated neighborhoods and schools.  We believe that broadening ADU requirements is one small step to encourage more socio-economically integrated communities and help reduce the structural segregation in the county.

Like much of the United States, Montgomery County is facing a housing crisis. Finding healthy and affordable housing near jobs and transit is extremely difficult for many.

It is our belief that Habitat is in a unique position to help solve the affordable housing crisis by building accessory apartments, also known as Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). ADUs are separate apartments either within, attached to, or detached from a main unit. Think English basements, garage apartments, and small backyard cottages.

Habitat strongly supports Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) 19-01 which was recently introduced to the Montgomery County Council. This ZTA would make it easier for homeowners to build ADUs should they choose to do so.

Please join Habitat for Humanity in supporting ZTA 19-01 and ADUs by signing this form to your Council Member.

Habitat’s repair and weatherization program has helped hundreds of owner-occupied homeowners improve their quality of life and help reduce energy bills. Many of these homeowners could benefit from the extra income stream that an ADU would provide. Extra income would allow the homeowner to remain in their home and their neighborhood while providing funds to help maintain the property.

ADUs provide homeowners with more flexibility in how they utilize their own property as their family needs change. ADUs provide:

  • More affordable yet separate housing for returning adult children or grandchildren
  • More affordable yet separate housing for aging parents or grandparents
  • More affordable yet separate housing for adults with disabilities
  • More affordable yet separate housing for lower income families in need of homes
  • Extra income for those who’ve lost a job or are on fixed income
  • An opportunity for young families and millennials to purchase homes because of the additional income source

Moreover, ADUs provide many environmental, social and economic benefits to our community. ADUs have a relatively small environmental impact and are typically built around public transit. The new bill maintains lot coverage restrictions, limiting the size of any addition or backyard cottage so as to protect storm water management. ADUs also encourage multigenerational housing and socio-economically integrated communities.

Communities across the US and the World are embracing ADUs as an innovative and flexible way to increase housing stock while allowing homeowners to best utilize their own homes.

Zoning Text Amendment 19-01 would make it easier for homeowners to build ADUs in a thoughtful manner by:

  • Allowing detached ADUs on lots less than 1 acre but still maintaining current lot coverage standards
  • Allowing ADUs to be built with new homes or in homes newer than 5 years
  • Eliminating minimum distance restrictions between ADUs
  • Requiring 2 off-street parking spaces rather than 3
  • Providing a waiver process on off-street parking spaces that allows for feedback from neighbors
  • Keeping the owner occupancy requirement
  • Keeping the restriction that no more than 2 unrelated adults can reside in the ADU
  • Permitting only one ADU per property and disallowing any other rentals on property if an ADU is present
  • Maintaining ban on short term rentals (AirBnB) for ADUs

Let the County Council know you support these changes to the ADU law. 

Want more information? Check out some of the resources below.

Fact sheet by At-Large County Councilmember Hans Riemer

Read this Greater Greater Washington post by Tracy Loh

Blog post from AARP on innovative & flexible options to Age in Place

Don’t want to fill out our form? You can email the council directly at County.Council@montgomerycountymd.gov.

Thank you for your support and consideration.

Women Build Launch Party

Last Wednesday, I had the great pleasure of attending the Women Build Launch Party hosted by Mimi Kress in the beautiful showroom of Sandy Spring Builders.  Nearly 100 women (and a few men) joined together to celebrate the launch of our annual campaign to build affordable homes in our community.

Since 1991, Women Build volunteers from all walks of life have come together to build stronger, safer communities.

Though our neighborhoods are comprised largely of women and children, they are also the population most likely to be affected by poor living conditions.  Our Women Build teams provide the opportunity for women to take a proactive step in serving their communities and help families achieve affordable home ownership.

Women Build opportunities are available for any woman who wants to learn how to build and construct a home.  No experience is necessary.  Volunteers work under the guidance of construction professionals, and also alongside other volunteers and future Habitat homeowners.

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Our goal this year is to recruit 36 teams (10 women on a team) and raise $200,000.  Currently, 46 teams are registered, so we are confident we will achieve our goal.  See the Women Build Flyer here  if you would like more information on forming a team or joining an existing team, or being a corporate sponsor.

Thank you to our corporate and faith sponsors for this year’s Women Build!

Women Build Community Sponsors

Community Sponsors

Women Build Sponsors

Sponsors

 

Launch Party Event Sponsors

Event Sponsors

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