This year, Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake celebrates not only our 40th year of bringing people together to build homes, communities, and hope, but its 787th homebuyer!

Stephane, an architect, and single father, was on Instagram one day scrolling through carpentry and construction sites when he came across photos of people building a Habitat home. He saw the spirit of a community at work, literally building generational wealth for deserving neighbors. Today, just a few weeks after accepting the keys to his fully renovated home in Sandtown-Winchester, Stephane is looking forward to building his own generational wealth. For him, it begins with laying down roots and spending this holiday season with his family and four-year-old twins.

Stephane is one of 787 Habitat Chesapeake homebuyers whose investment has made a substantial impact upon Baltimore neighborhoods. Thanks to donor support, we used data from the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance (BNIA) to evaluate the status of neighborhoods we work in. Over 40 years, Habitat Chesapeake has worked with 19 neighborhoods; eight of these, including Belair-Edison and Druid Heights, have seen unemployment rates decline and median home prices increase - sometimes at twice the rate according to the Baltimore City Department of Finance. This is a legacy of improvement, ensuring that our homeowners build not just a home, but generational wealth and a community for decades to come.

A local homebury and a representative from Habitat for Humanity Chesapeake shake hands in front of a newly purchased rowhome.
787th Habitat Chesapeake homebuyer Stephane shakes hands with Habitat Chesapeake staff member. (Photo courtesy of Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake)

We see it time after time: when Habitat Homebuyers receive the key to their new home, it leaves an impact that spans far beyond what they anticipated. Not just a sense of security and stability but another opportunity to change the trajectory of their family’s lives. Even through the pandemic, homebuyers have reported stability during a major socioeconomic crisis. Their affordable, fixed rate mortgages and zero-percent interest rate provide a foundation for safety and comfort.

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“Given the state of housing and the economy, we need more programs like Habitat to create opportunities for families,” says Stephane. “From an architectural and urbanist perspective, it’s nice to have programs like Habitat for urban revitalization and building cohesion within broken neighborhoods but above all, it’s the investment in people that matters the most.”

Now a resident of Sandtown-Winchester, Stephane will be surrounded by more than 300 Habitat homes and homebuyers who have journeyed similar homebuying processes, tackling homebuyer education classes, sweat equity hours, and the memorable ribbon cuttings. More homebuyers are still to come! In 2023, Habitat Chesapeake will focus its efforts on a handful of homes within the 1300-1500 block of N. Fulton Avenue in North Baltimore. Additional concentrated projects are also underway in Pigtown, Woodbourne-McCabe, Milton-Montford, Pen Lucy, Curtis Bay, and Orchard Ridge – a total of 41 homes throughout Baltimore City and Baltimore and Anne Arundel Counties.

Beyond creating a built-in support system for new families, concentrated construction efforts like Habitat’s make building efficient, create visible momentum in neighborhoods that need investment, and ensure that those same neighborhoods remain stable and mixed income, regardless of what future developments may occur. That’s important in Baltimore, where housing prices have risen dramatically over the past year, and major developments are transforming previously low-to-moderate-income communities.

“To me, homeownership is more than having a place to lay my head. It’s an opportunity to create family memories as well as an opportunity to invest in myself,” says Stephane. “I look forward to creating the best sense of home for me and my children.”

To learn more about Habitat Chesapeake’s mission and see where we are building next visit habitatchesapeake.org.

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