Partnership and collaboration are central to the work of Westside Future Fund (WFF), and we were delighted to raise up the work of one of our greatest partners in our efforts around community retention, Atlanta Habitat for Humanity, at our Nov. 16 Transform Westside Summit.
Lisa Gordon, president and CEO of Atlanta Habitat, walked Summit-goers through the organization’s 30+ years of service to the Atlanta community, highlighting its contributions to the Westside.
As WFF’s president and CEO John Ahmann acknowledged during his introduction of Gordon, Atlanta Habitat is one of the most prolific – if not the most prolific – builder of affordable housing in the city and has acted as a catalyst for many other equitable housing initiatives.
Atlanta Habitat is also one of the nonprofits with the longest standing history of engagement on the Westside and has set a high standard around retention and neighborhood revitalization.
Founded in 1983, Atlanta Habitat has built more than 1,600 homes in Atlanta and is supporting, on average, more than 100 families a year through its various programs.
One Homeowner at a Time
“When it comes to affordable housing, sometimes the problem seems so vast,” said Gordon during her opening remarks, but attributed Atlanta Habitat’s success to its commitment to addressing affordable housing and equity one homeowner, one family at a time.
She also recognized Atlanta Habitat’s willingness to remain responsive to the needs of the community.
Atlanta Habitat no longer just builds houses for families but remains invested long after they’ve received the keys to their homes, supporting them and their neighborhoods as they grow.
“It’s about homeowner retention,” said Gordon. “Many of these families have become anchors in this community and bring history, character and stability. The people who have been here need support and help.”
And help they have given. In the last three years especially, Atlanta Habitat has introduced new programs that support the overall health and vitality of the communities of their Habitat homeowners.
For existing Habitat homeowners, programs exist that address social and economic mobility. Program topics have ranged from civic engagement to entrepreneurship, and empowerment initiatives have included the granting of college scholarships to youth and funds for small business owners.
Atlanta Habitat has also been successful with its Repair with Kindness program, which grants longtime Habitat homeowners with funds for structural fixes to their homes like new roofs and siding.
Its Brush with Kindness program offers cosmetic updates to homes, such as fresh paint jobs and landscaping. Through Atlanta Habitat’s partnership with Westside Future Fund, this program has now been extended to non-Habitat homeowners, such as seniors and veterans, reinforcing its commitment to building healthy neighborhoods for all. Through this program, at least 75 residents each year will receive this care for their homes.
Residents renting in the community can now also take advantage of new homebuyer readiness programs, making the reality of homeownership much more achievable and accessible.
Because of their holistic approach, Atlanta Habitat has a 94% success rate with its homeowners, meaning they are meeting obligations and staying in their homes.
Power of We
But for every program and impressive statistic, Gordon was intentional about naming the organizations and individuals who helped to bring these efforts to life.
“We believe in the ‘power of we,’” said Gordon. “The collective ‘WE’ allows us to come up with new solutions and partnerships.”
Westside Future Fund was mentioned as a prime example. Gordon thanked the organization and the leadership of John Ahmann as well board member Liz Blake, former Habitat for Humanity executive who funded the Brush with Kindness for the Westside program. Atlanta Habitat’s partnership with WFF will now also include the building of new homes around the Westside, the first of which is under construction now.
Others recognized were the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, The Home Depot, Novelis, Chick-fil-A, and The Coca-Cola Company for their partnership.
Gordon closed with, “We have the power together. We all can make sure our neighbors have a safe, decent place to live.”
Click below to watch the full Nov. 16 Transform Westside Summit. Click here to access the printed program from the Summit.
Join us Dec. 7 for our next Transform Westside Summit, featuring YMCA of Metro Atlanta. Click here to register for the event.