On October 21, 2023, Habitat for Humanity of Washington, D.C. & Northern Virginia (Habitat DC-NOVA) celebrated the dedication of three recently completed affordable homes in Alexandria, VA. The dedication welcomed homebuyers Solomon and Sara, Stacy and her son Khalil, Ananiya and Rahel, and their families as they cut the ribbons on their new Habitat homes.
Each family shared their excitement to become homeowners as they prepare to purchase and move into their homes this fall. “We gather here not just to cut a ribbon but to cut through the barriers that have stood in the way of affordable housing for many of us. It’s a day to celebrate the power of collaboration, the strength of community, and the generosity of individuals and organizations who believe in making dreams come true,” shared Ananiya, whose remarks were given by Susanne Slater, President & CEO in his absence.
“It takes a village – it took a village to make this plan come into fruition. I’d just like to thank everybody for every nail that was hammered,” said Stacy.
Stacy and her son Khalil are co-purchasing their first home through Habitat DC-NOVA’s program. Their current home is unaffordable and cramped for their family of five, and it does not provide accessibility for a family member who is disabled and uses a wheelchair. Stacy is thrilled to move into her Habitat home with four bedrooms, a stairlift, a ramp, and many more features to support her family’s needs.
All three of the homebuyer families actively participated in the completion of their homes by contributing over 200 hours of sweat equity through volunteering and financial education training. With affordable mortgages that keep monthly payments proportional to income and reduced down payments as low as $500, each family will have the opportunity to build intergenerational wealth and stability.
“A Habitat home offers families a chance to invest in themselves and in our neighborhoods, to cultivate the roots and pride of place that strengthen our communities,” said Susanne Slater, President & CEO of Habitat DC-NOVA.
Through an innovative partnership with the Virginia Statewide Community Land Trust (VSCLT), the homes will remain affordable in perpetuity for future generations of owners.
The Groveton homes are Habitat DC-NOVA’s first homes to enter the Virginia Statewide Community Land Trust, of which Habitat DC-NOVA is a founding member. The land on which the homes are built will be owned and stewarded by VSCLT, further reducing the purchase costs for each homebuyer. The families still gain equity in their homes while the land equity is held by the community. “A community land trust is quite different from a typical Habitat build, as the ownership of the land and the home for are separated to ensure that these families can access homeownership,” said Amelie Rives, CEO of VSCLT. “This means Virginia Statewide CLT will continue to work hand in hand with these families through the life of the home and their homeownership journey.”
These homes were made possible thanks to the generous partners who invested in the project: Freddie Mac, Northern Virginia Regional Commission, Amazon, Leidos, The J. Willard & Alice S. Marriott Foundation, Morgan Stanley, the Diane and Norman Bernstein Foundation, the Campbell Family Foundation, Capital Bank – who worked with each family to secure affordable financing for the homes, and many more.
Freddie Mac’s support at the start of the project in 2020 propelled it forward through the COVID-19 pandemic. “Homeownership is a cornerstone of the American dream,” said Ayanna Jones, DEI Engagement Senior of Freddie Mac, who spoke at the ribbon cutting. ‘‘By working together with our local partners like Habitat for Humanity, we help strengthen communities and deepen our company’s roots. It’s a bond that makes Freddie Mac a better neighbor and a better company.”
Similarly, the Northern Virginia Regional Commission’s investment of $324,000 brought the three homes over the finish line to completion in 2023. “The Commission is delighted to have been a funding partner on this project through a grant we received from Virginia Housing,” shared Robert Lazaro, Executive Director of NVRC. “It takes many partners working cooperatively to make projects like this happen, and it truly serves as a model for success.”
In addition to their financial contributions, many of the project partners brought volunteer groups to directly construct the homes alongside the families. More than 800 volunteers gave over 15,000 hours of service to the Groveton homes. The volunteers and homebuyer families worked alongside the dedicated Sandlot, a crew of long-time Habitat construction volunteers who have given thousands of hours of service over more than two decades.