Top Company 2015: Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver
Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver
Three words from them, about them: Driven. Innovative. Sustainable.
It’s all about a hand up – not a hand out.
“Families invest hundreds of hours of sweat equity to build their homes and then make monthly mortgage payments to pay for their homes,” says Heather Lafferty, CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver, which has been building homes – and hope – for 36 years.
Last year, more than 15,000 volunteers teamed up with Habitat Denver to help build brighter futures for hard-working, low-income families who earn between 20 percent and 80 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI). To date, Habitat Denver has served more than 600 local families, providing permanent housing for more than 2,400 adults and children. Each new Habitat Denver home is high-quality, energy-efficient and affordable for the low-income families that purchase them with zero-interest mortgages – $5.4 million worth last year alone.
“Research shows that children do better in school, parents are more successful at work, and the whole family is healthier when they have a decent place to live,” Lafferty says. “The effect goes beyond families, too. Neighborhoods are revitalized when Habitat builds new and repairs older homes. Property values increase, crime rates decrease, and overall quality of life improves when people have safe, stable housing and are invested in their neighborhoods.”
Habitat boasts a less than 2 percent foreclosure rate, due in part to the educational resources and structure of empowerment that the organization offers partner families, including Home Buyer Education Courses and a required 200 hours to help build their home.
“It isn’t an easy program,” Lafferty says, “but for families who want to achieve their dream of owning a home, they know it will be worth it.”
To increase community and societal impact, Habitat Denver launched the Neighborhood Revitalization Program in 2012, focusing on critical home repair, community development and impact evaluation to expand investment in neighborhoods hit hardest by foreclosures or neglect. Habitat’s ReStores accept donations of home improvement materials and sell them back to the public, helping increase housing production by 70 percent since the first ReStore opened in 2004.
The secret sauce: “While most people think of Habitat as a home-builder, the truth is that we are a community builder,” Lafferty says. “Building homes is just one tool in our tool box to bring people and communities together. From the construction site, to our ReStores, to the home-buyer education classroom, we are constantly focused on how we can instigate positive transformation. Transformation happens in so many ways – it is personal for a volunteer who picks up a hammer for the first time; it is life-changing for a family that is no longer stuck in a generational cycle of poverty; and it is the foundation from which a neighborhood begins to revitalize and reach its full potential. Habitat builds homes, communities and hope.”
HopeWest, founded in 1993, offers hospice care in mostly rural communities on Colorado’s Western Slope, providing what money can’t always: love, support and expert medical care when patients and their loved ones need it most. The organization is “lifted up” through the generosity of the people it serves. More than 1,500 adult and teen volunteers provide more than 82,000 hours of service annually, and yearly donations top $2 million. Unique programs include hospice, palliative care, counseling and HopeWest Kids, serving more than 700 grieving children a year.
Qualistar Colorado, a statewide nonprofit aiming to advance quality early childhood care and education, has a long history of distributing quality improvement funding through several of its programs. These include the Teacher Education and Compensation Helps (T.E.A.C.H.) Early Childhood Scholarship Program and the Qualistar Colorado Capital Fund. More than $2 million in T.E.A.C.H. scholarships to 2,000 educators has been awarded along with $2.2 million in capital improvement grants to 200 child care centers statewide.