Rutherford County Area Habitat for Humanity and Lowe’s are partnering to raise awareness of the global need for safe and affordable housing for women during International Women Build Week (March 8-15) and the 2021 Women Build (March – May) Habitat and Lowe’s will kick off more than 300 Women Build projects supporting women-led households across the United States, Canada, and India to drive awareness and address the need. RCHFH will start building the Women Build house for future homeowner Sabrina, on March 15, and kick off the Women Build “Virtual Volunteer” campaign.
Women have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, from job loss to evictions and foreclosures. According to The National Women’s Law Center, 80 percent of U.S. jobs lost during the COVID-19 pandemic were held by women. The United Nations (UN) has reported that 40 percent of all employed women globally work in the industries hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year, due to continuing COVID-19 health concerns, the Women Build will not have community volunteers building the Habitat house. So RCHFH has created a “Virtual Volunteer” campaign where supporters can buy materials for the house construction, purchase a special Women Build T-Shirt (“Girls Play House. Women Build Them”), buy a window decal to honor the woman in their life, or buy a flower yard sign for the house dedication. Companies can also support this build and will have volunteer opportunities in the future when COVID-19 health concerns subside. That information is on the Women Build page: http://www.rchfh.org/2021-women-build/
“We greatly appreciate the many volunteers who have participated in past Women Build house constructions, and hope they will find it in their hearts to do so virtually this year,” says RCHFH Executive Director Terri Shultz. Last year over 100 volunteers participated in a Women Panel Build, building all the walls for a Habitat house for homeowner Melody. That house was dedicated recently and is across the street from Sabrina’s house lot.
Despite the unprecedented challenges women are facing, women remain on the frontlines of the pandemic as essential workers, as caretakers within their households, and too often have to make the difficult decision between maintaining a place to call home and paying for food, health care, childcare, education or reliable transportation. Harvard University’s State of the Nation’s Housing 2020 report revealed that 37.1 million U.S. households spent more than 30 percent of their incomes on housing in 2019, including 17.6 million spending more than 50 percent. The effects of the pandemic have further highlighted the need for safe and affordable housing, as 29 percent of renters and 36 percent of homeowners experienced employment income loss between March and September of 2020.
RCHFH’s Women Build will be the construction of a beautiful new home for Future Homeowner Sabrina, in the Legacy Pointe subdivision of affordable housing in Murfreesboro, TN. Sabrina is herself an essential worker, as an employee of Aldi Grocery Store. As with many essential workers, Sabrina worked overtime shifts, making sure that grocery items were stocked and ready for people to purchase during the pandemic. During this time, Sabrina also completed the 30-week Financial Literacy and Homeowner Education program that Habitat requires for future homeowners. She has also been working on the construction of other Habitat homes to complete her 300-400 hours of sweat equity and will work on her own home starting construction March 15. The home is expected to be completed by late May when Sabrina will qualify for Habitat’s affordable mortgage and buy her home. This unique program allows families with incomes of 30-80% of the Area Medium Income (AMI) to purchase their home and achieve wealth equity.
Sabrina’s story is not unique. Every day, millions of women face the challenge of a future without adequate, stable housing. This issue underscores the importance of Habitat and Lowe’s efforts to bring awareness to the issue, as well as a partnership focused on ensuring that more women have access to affordable housing.
Lowe’s and Habitat’s partnership began in 2003. To date, the program has brought together more than 143,000 women volunteers who have built or repaired nearly 6,000 houses. Lowe’s has committed more than $78 million to support the global housing nonprofit’s efforts, including the Women Build program, International Women Build Week, and Habitat’s Neighborhood Revitalization program. Lowe’s support of Habitat has helped more than 18,000 Habitat partner families improve their living conditions.
To learn more about RCHFH’s Virtual Volunteer”, visit http://www.rchfh.org/2021-women-build/. To learn more or join the conversation, visit habitat.org/womenbuild or follow #BuildHer and #WomenBuild on social media to share and view stories from around the world.