Guest commentary: Habit for Humanity shows it takes many hands to build a home |

Guest commentary: Habit for Humanity shows it takes many hands to build a home

Gail Schwartz
Guest commentary

Like countless other businesses in the Roaring Fork Valley and across the country, it was just over a year ago that our Habitat for Humanity affiliate suddenly had to close our doors at the ReStore in Glenwood Springs and shut down all construction and volunteers at our Basalt Vista project in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now that our communities are coming back strong, it is time that we thank all those who remained supportive and generous to Habitat over the past year, especially selfless individuals like our front-line health care workers, public safety workers, grocery store workers and countless others for keeping their doors open.

Habitat for Humanity was fortunate to not only survive this past year but to actually thrive, proving that there can be a silver lining to uncertain events. We determined that we needed to stay nimble to continue to serve our community, so we created an entirely new website with online shopping at the ReStore and introduced new building efficiencies at Basalt Vista.

As a result, sales and donations at the Restore are strong and our homes for hardworking local families at Basalt Vista are being completed on schedule. We also sent generously donated items throughout the state to families who were economically impacted or devastated by the fires last summer.

We are very optimistic about the future and again thank the citizens of the Roaring Fork and Colorado River valleys for the strength you have shown in the face of our collective challenges.

Yet there is another significant challenge that faces our communities that cannot be overcome with vaccines or face masks: That is our affordable housing crisis.

Habitat for Humanity is committed along with many generous partners to address this challenge to local working families and this threat to the very fabric of our communities. As we work every day to build affordable homes, we are helping to stabilize the neighbors we all depend upon to teach our children, provide our health care, keep our communities safe and our main streets successful, now and into the future. Habitat can not meet this challenge — and fill the large and growing gap of thousands of affordable units needed to stabilize our workforce — alone.

It takes many hands to build homes, and we are genuinely grateful to partner with volunteers, donors, local governments and businesses to get this job done for working families! But we need local jurisdictions to provide proactive housing and land use policies, fee concessions and land donations that make affordable housing development feasible in our valleys.

Building on Habitat’s ethos of providing “a hand up, not a handout,” Habitat sincerely values and appreciates communal support and advocacy in our mutual endeavors to build affordable housing to ensure that we remain a healthy, prosperous, welcoming and inclusive community for many years to come.

Gail Schwartz is the president of Habitat for Humanity Roaring Fork Valley.