Loudoun Habitat for Humanity Dedicates 50th Home

For a 50th time in its 26-year history, Loudoun Habitat for Humanity on Saturday handed over the keys of a pristine home to yet another disadvantaged family.

About 60 people crowded outside a townhouse in Sterling’s Providence Village neighborhood June 1 to see Loudoun Habitat for Humanity dedicate its 50th home since its inception in 1993—this time to Miki Lewis, a single mother of two young boys. The dedication came as part of the Christian nonprofit’s Home Ownership Program, which builds and renovates homes for low-income residents who have steady-enough income to pay affordable mortgages.

During the dedication, Lewis was given a new Bible, handed the keys to her new home, cut a ceremonial ribbon and invited the dozens of guests inside to take a look at renovation work on the 24-year-old, 1,119-square-foot townhome. The work was made possible through volunteer help predominantly from staffers at Microsoft and Digital Realty, members of the Community Church and 20 high school seniors working on their capstone projects.

Lewis’ new home comes after years of financial troubles. After eventually becoming homeless, the Washington, DC, native in December 2015 made it to the Loudoun County Shelter to start life anew in Loudoun. Once she landed a job, a counselor suggested she apply for Habitat’s Home Ownership Program.

“If you put your mind to something and you can put God first in your life, then all things are possible,” Lewis said. “This house really is a community house—I’m very thankful.”

Julie Steele, Loudoun Habitat’s homeowner services manager, said the home would be a “new foundation” and a “place of stability” for Lewis and her boys.

Since the Loudoun chapter of the 43-year-old international nonprofit was formed, it has built, renovated or repaired homes for about 200 Loudoun residents.

Its first home dedication was in October 1994 on Wirt Street in Leesburg. In 2014, it dedicated seven homes—the most it’s dedicated in a single year. By that point, it had dedicated 29 homes to help nearly 120 individuals.

The Home Ownership Program uses various annual gross income brackets to determine if a resident qualifies for a home, with a minimum annual income of $32,800 and a maximum of $65,582 for a family of three. Those limits are based on the 30-60 percent range of the region’s median family income, as determined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

According to the chapter’s 2018 annual report, nearly 30 percent of Loudoun households spend about a third of their income on housing costs, which can leave families vulnerable to housing overcrowding, financial instability, food insecurity, poor academic performance, poor health and illness.

Loudoun Habitat also operates a learning center to educate residents on home maintenance and finances and a Home Repair Program to help families fix up their homes. It also resells donated items at discounted prices at its Leesburg-based ReStore.

The money Loudoun Habitat uses to pay for its operations and projects comes in part from donations—37 percent from individuals, 35 percent from events, 21 percent from the corporate world, and 5 percent from grants and foundations. In 2018, it received $317,417 from contributions. It also generated nearly $800,000 from sales at its Leesburg ReStore, received a $500,000 Loudoun Community Development Block Grant and nearly $122,000 from fundraising.

In general, 90 percent of the money Loudoun Habitat receives goes toward its programs, while 10 percent finances fundraising efforts and administrative costs.

According to its annual report, the nonprofit is striving to dedicate its 75th home by 2021 and is focused on building or refurbishing homes at a rate of 10-12 each year, strengthening homeowner learning programs, pushing the local and state government for more affordable housing options and increasing operational efforts at the ReStore.

pszabo@loudounnow.com

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