Pilot Program Will Offer Ten Families the Chance for Financial Stability and Homeownership
– In an effort to expand upon its long-standing work to empower low-wealth Charlottesville citizens through affordable homeownership, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville is unveiling a new pilot program: Pathways to Housing.
"This will affect my life dramatically,” says Tashae Anderson, who last week was accepted into the inaugural Pathways class by the Habitat board. “I will own my own home that I can give my kids. I want to show my kids that even if you have bumps in the road, you can still make it."
Pathways will provide families like Ms. Anderson’s with intensive financial coaching, homebuyer education, and a savings program, as well as job training and placement supports through a partnership with the Charlottesville Works Initiative, a local workforce development program through PVCC. The goal is to move families toward financial stability in order to purchase a home through Habitat or improve their housing situation through another option that fits their needs.
“Instead of closing the door on hard-working families who are motivated to improve their lives, Pathways widens the door to homeownership for low-income residents in our community” says Janette Kawachi, Chief Partnership Officer at Habitat, who oversees the pilot program. “Many people have fallen into a debt spiral because of past financial mistakes or predatory lending practices. Pathways offers a second chance to rebuild their financial future and achieve their dream of homeownership.”
In Charlottesville, just 42% of families own their homes, far lower than the national average of 63%. With a poverty rate of nearly 26% and ever-increasing home values, many longtime, low-wealth Charlottesville families find it nearly impossible to purchase their own home, build wealth, and stay in the community. Financial setbacks like health crises, poor credit, and job loss can keep low-wealth residents in a perpetual cycle of poverty.
“This pilot program is part of Habitat’s broader effort to better serve historically low-wealth communities in Charlottesville,” says Dan Rosensweig, President & CEO of Habitat. “We knew we had to leverage our existing program so that we could help more families get back on their feet financially.”
Rosensweig added that the Pathways program was created in response to an overwhelming response in the community for Habitat homeownership. “We want to help everyone who comes our way. Pathways puts us in a better position to do so.”
Though Habitat usually serves families at 25% to 60% of area median income (AMI), Pathways is open to families at less than 25% of AMI or who have low-incomes paired with significant debt. Although this is a pilot project, Habitat hopes to continue and expand the program in coming years.
“The lowest-income community members need tools and opportunities to build wealth and gain equity,” continues Kawachi. “The current housing crisis isn’t going to be solved by simply putting a roof over people’s heads, we need to create real opportunities for economic mobility that end the cycle of poverty for families.”
About Habitat: Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville brings people together to build and rebuild homes and communities while catalyzing new pathways to safe, decent affordable housing. Our work has evolved from building one house at a time to developing vibrant, sustainable, mixed-income communities, where hardworking local families can achieve their dreams of homeownership. Since our founding in 1991, we have built 200 new homes and safely housed 2,000 neighbors, thanks to the commitment and dedication of our thousands of volunteers and supporters.