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Investing in Our Community

Habitat for Humanity: Affordable Homes for the Region's Workforce

Home ownership isn’t the foregone conclusion that it used to be—especially in an expensive area like the Pikes Peak Region.

Habitat for Humanity is here to help. Established in 1976 in Georgia, with the Pikes Peak affiliate launching a decade later, this nonprofit builds and repairs homes because its founders believed that everyone should have a healthy, affordable place to call home.

“Having a permanent, decent place to call home leads to improved physical and mental health, better educational outcomes for children, stronger communities, and the opportunity for generational wealth-building,” says Kris Lewis, CEO of Pikes Peak Habitat for Humanity. “When our workforce employees–our teachers, first responders, childcare workers, entry-level professionals–are priced out of the market, we all suffer.”

Pikes Peak Habitat operates three distinct programs: Homeownership, Home Repair and ReStore.

Homeownership

Families selected for the homeownership program provide at least 200 hours of sweat equity per person over 18 to help build their home alongside volunteers. And once the home is built, the family buys it.

It’s a partnership, not a giveaway program.

In fiscal year 2023, Pikes Peak Habitat received 51 applications and built 10 energy-efficient homes. Floor plans are based on the number of people who will live in the house and homeowners choose the paint, flooring, fixtures and even low-water landscaping. At least one home each year goes to a veteran. Homeowners are required to attend monthly classes covering subjects such as financial planning, insurance and disaster preparedness.

“We focus on permanent housing solutions,” says Amber Hardy, manager of Homeowner Services.

The biggest hurdle to building more homes in the region is land, Hardy says. El Paso County is a fast-growing region; land is scarce and expensive. Pikes Peak Habitat prefers developed, ready-to-build lots, platted lots or larger acreages, but is open to most land, as long as it can accommodate at least two homes.

Home Repair

Pikes Peak Habitat also has a program to help those who already own a home or live in an apartment with improvements: roofing projects, bathtub-to-shower conversions, wheelchair ramps and the like. Often, these projects help seniors or people with disabilities “age in place” comfortably and safely.

In exchange, Habitat requests up to eight hours of “paying it forward” into the community. The repair recipients can choose to teach crochet to neighbors, for instance, or to read books to children at the library.

“It has an added benefit of creating hope,” says Leah Cowles, manager of the Home Repair Program.

Last year, the Home Repair division helped with 32 projects. Repairs are planned for 70 families this year. Cowles says people tell her frequently that the improvements have changed their lives.

“They love the quality of the work,” she says. “They love to interact with the volunteers.”

The biggest need for the Home Repair Program is funds, says Communications Manager Monique Bos.

ReStore

Don’t have spare time, land or money? Donate items you no longer need (or shop for items you do need) at one of Colorado Springs’ two ReStores. 

Habitat ReStores are home improvement stores and donation centers selling new and gently used items. In the 2023 fiscal year, the Pikes Peak region’s stores received 25,419 drop-off donations, 2,282 donation pick ups, contributing to $851,189 in net profits. Ten percent of those profits go to Habitat International to build homes abroad; the rest goes directly back to building homes in the Pikes Peak region.

These two stores also recycled more than 17,000 gallons of paint last year, as well as 66 tons of porcelain, which Colorado Springs Utilities grinds up to use as a road base through a program called “Commode the Road.” They accept clothing donations, too, which they send to a clothing recycling center in Denver.

“We’re really trying hard not to turn anything away,” says Toby Drury, director of ReStores for Pikes Peak Habitat for Humanity.

ReStores carry furniture, lighting, appliances, flooring, doors, cabinets… You name it; they have it. And they test each lighting fixture and appliance (except for gas) before putting it on the floor. Recent donations have included a grandfather clock, claw-foot tubs, a floating set of stairs, antique sewing machine tables and even cast-iron stoves in custom colors from decades past. 

In other words, visiting a ReStore is like a treasure hunt—you never know what you'll find. Drury encourages local residents to stop in regularly.  

“It can’t hurt, but it can help,” Drury says, adding that knowing that your dollars are directly helping further an important mission in our community simply makes you feel good.

Website: https://pikespeakhabitat.org/
Facebook + Instagram: @pikespeakhabitat

“We focus on permanent housing solutions.” -Amber Hardy, manager of Homeowner Services

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