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The President & CEO's Blog

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

Remembering James Offord

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We honor the life of Jim Offord who died recently. Quoting from his memorial service on November 9 at Colesville United Methodist Church “After a distinguished career in federal government, retiree/volunteer Offord went on to make significant contributions to bettering human relations within Montgomery County. Specifically, Mr. Offord’s contributions to fair and affordable housing, civil rights and political/civic activism, have served as a positive impact upon bridging the social, political and economic differences of diverse groups of people with Montgomery County.

Over the years, Mr. Offord has diligently served as an active member and officer of these non-profit organizations: Board of Directors – Tamarack Triangle Civic Association; Treasurer and Board Member – Great Hope Homes, Inc.; Board of Directors – Suburban Maryland Fair Housing, Inc.; Editorial Advisory Committee – Montgomery Times; Member of Congressman Albert Wynn’s Scholarship Committee – Colleges and Military academies; President and Board Member – Montgomery Habitat for Humanity, Inc.; Housing Chairperson and member of the Montgomery County branch of NAACP, and elected representative on the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee, Legislative District 14. As the former Executive Director of Suburban Maryland Fair Housing and past Board Director of the MD chapter of the SCLC, it was evident that Mr. Offord’s strong commitment to bettering human relations was paramount.”

“James C. Offord’s words, deed and actions, on behalf of human relations principles and practices, are in the best tenets of the goals, hope and aspirations of ALL groups of people in our County. Jim Offord truly walked as a “drum major for justice” here within Montgomery County, in the spirit and substance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.”

It was my privilege to meet Jim, but briefly. His presence was, to me, filled with the joy that only a person living with the wholehearted joy that comes from giving can convey. What he gave Habitat for Humanity was not only a commitment for advocacy for affordable housing and social justice, but a strong example to follow.

Volunteer Recognition 2019

Our annual Volunteer Recognition and Awards event was held recently.  Every year, over 4,000 unique volunteers donate time on the construction site, in one of our ReStores, or  on a committee.  The great thing about our society and our local community is that so many wonderful people take the time to help.

Volunteers serve on various committees including our Annual Affordable Housing Benefit Breakfast, Family Services, Faith, Finance, Golf, Polo (yes Polo, but you don’t have to play), ReStore and Women Build.

Over 34,000 hours were contributed, and all of these efforts saved Habitat for Humanity in excess of $871,000 in Fiscal Year 2019.

Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze Awards recognized volunteers for extraordinary service and commitment to the mission and work of Habitat for Humanity Metro Maryland.

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The R. Glynn Mays Volunteer of the Year Award was presented to Mimi Brodsky Kress for outstanding volunteer service to Habitat.  Mimi is the co-owner and COO of Sandy Spring Builders.

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The Harry & Lutie Semmes Award honored Robyn Motley for outstanding performance by a member of the Habitat for Humanity Board of Directors.  Robyn is the Senior Vice President of Revenue Optimization and General Manager for AARP Media.

Check out the full program for bios and award recipients.

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For more information about volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, please visit our website at www.habitatmm.org

 

An Interview with a Home Repair Client

I am very delighted to introduce you all to a very special client – Ms. Joan.  What makes Ms. Joan special is that she is the first client to benefit from all of the Home Repair Services that HFHMM has to offer. Ms. Joan has been served through the Montgomery County Homeowner Energy Efficiency Program, Weatherization Program, Home Repair Program, and our newest the CAPABLE Program.

Ms. Joan

Ms. Joan moved into her Montgomery County home in 1996 after leaving her native home in British Guyana (a country located in South America) and since then has retired from a long and fruitful career in accounting. These days, you can find Ms. Joan at home enjoying life with her daughter, growing plants, and taking daily walks throughout her neighborhood.

Ms. Joan first came to Habitat through the Montgomery County Homeowner Energy Efficiency Program where she received appliance upgrades at no cost to her. She received brand new energy star certified clothes washer/dryer and refrigerator and attic insulation and fan! But the work didn’t stop there – she also applied for our CAPABLE program so that she could work with an Occupational Therapist and a Registered Nurse and receive accessibility modifications. We were also able to provide larger repair/weatherization items because Ms. Joan qualified for our traditional Home Repair and Weatherization Programs. Examples of the work include:

  • Replacement of faucets with lever style handles
  • Installation of grab bars in the bathroom
  • Installation of a railing along the exterior wall by her driveway
  • Replacement of her boiler, chimney liner and thermostat
  • Gutter replacement
  • Air sealing measures

We asked Ms. Joan if she wanted to share what her experience was like throughout this process and here is what she had to say:

“The repair and weatherization program was very helpful financially, since I am retired and have a limited income.  I also appreciated the safety features, such as the grab bars in the bathrooms and the handrail along the driveway.  The CAPABLE Program was informative in the prevention of falls and helpful with health issues.  I am very thankful to Habitat for Humanity for making it easier for me to remain in my home as I get older.”

If you or someone you know is interested in receiving any of the services mentioned above, please visit our home repair services website and see what program works best for you! https://www.habitatmm.org/home+repair

Aging in Place

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Elias (our very first CAPABLE client) at his home in Kensington, MD. Elias is an older adult with high energy, a fun personality and many interests/hobbies. He was born on the border of Israel and Lebanon, has traveled and lived in various countries and can fluently speak in 5 different languages. Elias worked for the DC government for many years and now spends his time doing what he loves – studying different cultures and languages. He is currently studying Hebrew! These days, you can find Elias enjoying lunch every day at the Holiday Park Senior Center.

Elias

Elias has been living in his home for over 20 years now. His home was built in the early 1950’s and needed some work which is why he reached out to Habitat and we were glad to help! Habitat performed a home visit and a whole home audit to identify, create, and prioritize health and safety related repairs. 

Habitat performed numerous Weatherization Services, Home Repair Services, and accessibility modifications in Elias’s home which included:

  • Replacing 13 door knobs with lever style handles
  • Installing carpet treads on the interior steps to prevent falling
  • Installing a single handle shower valve in Master Bathroom
  • Installing a brand new garbage disposal in the kitchen sink
  • Installing grab bars throughout the master bathroom
  • Installing two Panasonic Whisper Bath Fans
  • Installing a Window Security Grill for the back door entrance
  • Installing exterior hand railings
  • Insulating the attic
  • Air sealing the home

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If you or someone you know is interested in receiving services through our CAPABLE program, you can download the application HERE or contact our Repair Client Coordinator Rebecca Arce for more information at (301) 990-0014 x 19.

HFHMM CAPABLE is a supplemental and/or stand-alone program which serves older adults experiencing challenges with Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s) by providing a more holistic approach to the idea of Aging In Place. With the CAPABLE program, income qualified older adults are paired with an Occupational Therapist and Registered Nurse, both of whom will conduct a series of visits in order to assist in the identification of challenges, setting of goals, and outlining of action plans for those goals. Within the parameters of the program, Habitat for Humanity is able to provide minor home modifications per the recommendation of the occupational therapist, which are geared toward improving independence.

The Montgomery County Alliance Supports Accessory Dwelling Unit Legislation

Why Local Affordable Housing Organizations Support the Expansion of Accessory Dwelling Units

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

Earlier this year, Councilmember Hans Riemer introduced Zoning Text Amendment 19-01 with the intention of making it easier for County homeowners to build Accessory Dwelling Units or ADUs on their properties.  ADUs are separate apartments either within, attached to, or detached from a main unit. Think English basements, garage apartments, and small backyard cottages.

ADUs allow homeowners to flexibly use their largest asset, their home, as their family’s needs change. ADUs also provide important economic, social, and environmental benefits including:

  • Providing critical rental revenue to a senior living on fixed income and looking to Age in Place
  • Utilizing existing infrastructure to provide additional housing without increasing sprawl
  • Increasing housing opportunities around transit, near jobs, and in desirable communities
  • Providing opportunities for multigenerational living while maintaining independence for all parties
  • Habitat for Humanity could build ADUs for low to moderate residents or for adults with disabilities

Importantly, ADUs provide opportunities for families who cannot afford to buy a home, to access housing in areas of the County which are generally inaccessible to them otherwise. Much of Montgomery County is zoned for single family, detached homes. With an average home value of $450,000, many potential homebuyers are priced out of the market and unable to save a down payment due to the high cost of rent and living. ADUs offer an opportunity to expand housing options in highly desired neighborhoods, helping make our communities more diverse, no matter socioeconomic status, race, or ethnic identity.

While we cannot guarantee that ADUs will be rented at or below market, studies from areas with large numbers of ADUs show that many units are rented below market rate and are affordable to families with modest incomes. Moreover, ADU size restrictions will limit the amount of rent that can be charged. Either way, renting an ADU is more accessible to families than buying a home in the same neighborhood.

We believe that ZTA 19-01, with amendments unanimously approved by the Planning, Housing, and Economic Development committee, balances the desire of homeowners to build ADUs with concerns from the community around short-term rentals, parking, and storm water management.

  • Short-term rentals, including Airbnb, are explicitly prohibited and homeowners are required to live in either the main unit or the ADU. Both units cannot be rented at
  • The amendments recommend waiving the additional parking requirement within one mile of a metro station. That said, additional off street parking is still required outside of the one mile metro radius at the same level as is currently required.
  • Under the ZTA, detached ADUs continue to be treated as accessory structures and must comply with the same lot coverage ratios deemed acceptable, in terms of storm water management, for a garage or shed.

The expansion of Accessory Dwelling Units will not solve the affordable housing crisis, but we believe it is a critical tool in providing increased housing opportunities in desirable neighborhoods. We strongly encourage residents and councilmembers to support ZTA 19-01.

Montgomery Housing Alliance
Action in Montgomery, Coalition for Smarter Growth, Habitat for Humanity Metro Maryland, Housing Opportunities Commission, Interfaith Works, Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless, Montgomery Housing Partnership, Rebuilding Together, and Victory Housing

The Montgomery Housing Alliance is a coalition of organizations focused on increasing the rate of preservation and development of affordable housing in Montgomery County. Members that include non-profit developers, for-profit developers with a specific interest in affordable housing, non-profit organizations that serve people in need of affordable housing, and other groups who count affordable housing as one of their policy goals.

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.

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