Watch the videos below to hear from some of our 2020 Dream Builder sponsors, including Eli Lilly & Company, Women Build, and Freedom Mortgage!
Celebrating 20 Years of Partnership with Eli Lilly & Company:
7th Annual Women Build Raising Walls and Builds Hope:
Freedom Mortgage Supporting a Veteran through Habitat for Humanity:
As a healthcare provider and recent nursing school graduate, the impact of a safe, quality home on the health of her family is not lost on Brandy. This past year has shown all of us just how important a secure and safe home is.
In April Jim Morris, president & CEO, celebrated with Brandy at a small home dedication. Watch the video below to hear what home means to Brandy and her son, Adrian!
Brandy’s story is one of resilience and dedication.
“Everyone always dreams at some point in their lives about the ‘perfect home’ with the so called white picket
fence,” wrote Brandy. “Sitting on the porch with the children running and playing in the huge yard. For the longest time having a simple roof over my head that I could simply call home was my dream. Growing up I was bounced around from school to school being forced to meet new people and start a new life until we would become evicted again and forced once again to move to another location. Just when I started to make friends we would have to pack up and move to the next temporary home.”
Brandy also played the mother role often for her siblings. “Doing laundry, cooking and cleaning became more of a responsibility to me than my homework and studying. I remember cooking outside on a handmade fire pit because our gas would be shut off most of the time. Microwaving water to wash dishes and bathe in quickly before it got too cold in the unheated home. Using candles and tons of blankets for lights and warmth when the electricity was shut off on us. Getting up at six in the morning to bath in cold water without heat or lights. Taking a long walk to school in the cold winter mornings. I always told told myself as soon as I could get my own home I would make sure I at least could afford my utilities no matter the inside of the home. At ten years-old my dream home was just a home with working utilities.”
As a young, single mom, Brandy worked multiple jobs to make ends meet and eventually found a house to rent on the corner of a busy road. But, it was her own place. “My name, my bills and my little house on the comer. I was never more proud of myself. Over the next couple of years I started college to achieve my all-time goal of becoming a registered nurse.”
“One year into the home of my dreams I began to realize it was not so much a dream,” shared Brandy. “I ran into major plumbing problems that put me without water for days. I had to use multiple space heaters due to my furnace not being sufficient enough for the size and layout of my home, which increased my utilities bills so much that I could not afford them. The landlord did not give me many options to help fix these issues so I dealt with them as best as I could. About two years into this home I received emergency custody of my niece.”
“Giving up on college for the time being was my only option. My house became very crowded at this time. After two years living with us and becoming just like a sibling to my son, my niece was able to go back home to her mother on a temporary basis. I hope she is able to stay with her mother for good, however if she ever needs me I will be there for her immediately…I am a firm believer in God and I have truly been blessed to have made it this far in my life. I believe God has big plans for my family and me. I started college again and I landed a great job where I use my college education and can help continue my education.”
Brandy wanted a home to provide a safe and healthy place for her son and niece to grow up. That’s when she explored homeownership with Habitat for Humanity. After applying to the program and completing 300 hours of sweat equity, including homeownership classes and volunteering to help build her home and other Habitat homes, Brandy finally signed the paperwork to become a first-time homeowner in April!
“I am ready to finally be able to secure a home for me and my family. One that we can call ‘Ours.’ A place we can safely lay our head down at night. Many memories are built within a home. I am very excited and eager to build memories within my Habitat home. It is a fresh new start for my family that is much needed. A place for my son to grow up and enjoy. A place for my niece to know she can always come and can have a space of her own when it is needed the most…Owning a home from Habitat for Humanity will truly be a huge blessing to me and my family.”
Before the pandemic, 1 in 7 U.S. households were paying 50% or more of their income on housing. Gaps in homeownership by race have also not changed since 1968 (see graphic below). COVID-19 and its economic impact have only worsened the home affordability crisis as supply has greatly decreased while demand remains high.
In greater Indianapolis, access to attainable homeownership is a considerable and growing challenge. According to the most recent MIBOR data on home prices, median home prices in Indianapolis soared by 18.6% from the start of 2020 to the start of 2021. The current median sales price is $185,000. In Hamilton County, the median sales price is $335,750.
This is good for those who already own a home and are seeing their assets increasing. It is not only the traditional American dream, owning a home has been the number one means for households to build generational wealth in the U.S., especially amongst lower income households.
We are entering our 34th year of providing equitable access to the opportunity of homeownership. While the pandemic slowed us down in 2020, it has not deterred our resolve to provide and preserve workforce housing in the four counties of Hamilton, Hancock, Hendricks and Marion counties. The heartbeat of our mission is bringing people together, so thank you for coming alongside the individuals and families in 2021 who are going to purchase their home to start building a future of wealth.
President & CEO
Greater Indy Habitat for Humanity
Precious Johnson became a Habitat homeowner in 2009 and joined our Young Professionals group in 2019. She currently serves on the 2021 leadership team as the HYP Secretary.
My name is Precious and my first experience with Habitat was in 2008. I volunteered at a build a site, and after working the build site I was intrigued. I talked to my neighbor, a few co-workers and visited the Habitat website for more information.
There was a homeownership meeting scheduled for the next week and I decided to attend. After attending that one homeownership meeting, I submitted my application for the program. At that time, I was paying $675 in rent, and a monthly $100 light bill. I believe my bi-weekly paycheck after taxes was $700. The apartment was a very spacious two bedrooms, with two full bathrooms and I still lived close to my parents. Every month I used one of my bi-weekly paychecks to cover my rent. My best friend and my parents would help me monthly with groceries, gas, etc. My son and I lived in a previous cheaper apartment that was not safe or clean.
(Precious and her son, Karachi, volunteering on a Habitat build site.)
Affordable housing should be option to any adult who has income to make a monthly payment. I tried to apply for the Section 8 program, but the list was usually closed, or the waitlist was at a least a year.
Home is a place a family learns to grow, cook, love, and so much more. A family needs a home that is affordable, clean, and safe. I’m the oldest of four children, our house was always full of chaos, good food, laughter, anger, and a strong family. I always wanted my own home, but as a single parent I didn’t think I could afford a home. Then I thought how I would maintain a home, cut grass, pay property tax, etc. Once I went to the homeownership meeting, I knew I could afford a home.
My Habitat home makes me feel grateful that I have a warm, safe, and clean home for my family. I know that my hard work, and dedication made it possible to have a home. Also, I have a home that I can leave to my son, and he is learning how to maintain our home.
Habitat is important to me because the homeownership program made it possible for me to become a homeowner. If this program did not exist, I would have continued to live in an apartment struggling to pay rent. My Habitat mortgage is a payment that I continue to afford without a struggle.
In a year when a safe, affordable home is as important as ever, we want to thank you for helping make the dream of homeownership possible for our families. Though challenges abounded in 2020, our homebuyers, sponsors, volunteers, donors, and partners pulled together to find solutions, offer each other grace, and return to the imperative work of our mission.
Whether you wielded a paintbrush, offered words of encouragement, or shared a gift to support our work, we are grateful for your partnership and the belief that everyone deserves a decent place to call home. Through the generous support of our community, we:
- Completed 16 homes for first-time homeowners (view their photos below!)
- Built homes and hope in El Salvador during our 6th Global Village trip in February
- Celebrated 15 homeowners who paid off their mortgage for a total of 129 families
- Finished two Women Build homes for the first time ever
- Opened our fifth ReStore location on West Washington Street (follow their page here!)
These smiles below say it best – thank you for welcoming home our 2020 homeowners!
President & CEO
Greater Indy Habitat for Humanity
P.S. This winter we’re getting a head start on building homes for 2021. Your donation today helps make this early work possible so that even more families can build next year!
In place of a large gathering to announce our 2019 award recipients, we opted to surprise each winner with a recognition of their dedicated and outstanding support of Habitat’s mission in Greater Indy. Check out the videos below to hear from each award recipient about why they work diligently to build homes, community and hope!
Congratulations to our 2019 Frank Hartman Volunteer of the Year, Erika Fotsch! Watch the video below to see Erika accept the award and learn more about why she is committed to Habitat’s mission in our city, state, and world.
Congratulations to our 2019 Legacy Corporate Partner, Carrier Corporation! We caught up with Carrier leaders and volunteers on the build site this fall. Check out the video below to discover why they come back year after year (for 25 years and counting!) to support Habitat families in achieving their goal of homeownership.
Congratulations to our 2019 Legacy Church Partner, St. Mark’s United Methodist Church! Many of our partners do more than just volunteer on the build site and St. Mark’s UMC is a prime example of that extended engagement. St. Mark’s long-term commitment to our mission has blessed many first-time homeowners.
Please join us in congratulating each of our incredible 2019 award recipients!
Year-End Strategies for Charitable Giving
Like you, Greater Indy Habitat is adapting in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, uncertain economy, and growing social and political unrest in our county.
For every dark moment in our history, there are countless tales of everyday people coming together to accomplish extraordinary feats. We have been blessed to have many individual, community and faith partners continue to walk alongside us and our families in 2020. Because of you 16 families will complete and purchase their first homes in 2020.
As the year is coming to a close, many people are thinking about how they can make an impact through a tax-deductible donation to Greater Indy Habitat. If that is you, I wanted to share a few beneficial strategies to consider. These may be helpful tools and I have worked closely with others that have used them to maximize their generosity while keeping their liabilities low. If you have questions about any of the below, or any strategies to help your generosity, please reach out to me!
Gifts of Stock or Securities
While donations by cash or check are the most common methods of charitable giving, contributing stocks, bonds, or mutual funds that have appreciated overtime have become increasingly popular in recent years. Typically, no capital gains taxes are owed when securities are donated, not sold. With many stocks appreciating sharply in August, this may be a good time to consider this donation strategy.
Required Minimum Distributions Waived in 2020
Even though Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) are waived, if you are at least 72 years-old, have an IRA, and plan to donate to Greater Indy Habitat this year, consider making a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) from your IRA. This may allow you to satisfy charitable goals and allows funds to be withdrawn from an IRA without any tax consequences.
The CARES ACT: Good News When We Need It Most
Here’s some good news! Among the charitable giving provisions, the CARES ACT includes a temporary, partial above-the-line charitable deduction for cash gifts (up to $300) in 2020 to encourage gifts by taxpayers who are unable to itemize under current tax law. The legislation also modifies the limitation on qualified charitable gifts of cash to 100% of AGI for itemizers in 2020. I’m happy to talk through these changes with you!
If you have questions about donations of stock or making a gift from your IRA, we encourage you to reach out to your wealth manager before the end of the year. Or feel free to contact me, Janine Robertson, Impact Giving Officer, at email@example.com or 317.922.2025.
This summer we caught up with Denise Conrady to learn more about her experience volunteering with Habitat and why she used FreeWill via Greater Indy Habitat to set up her will…for free! Get to know Denise below and discover why FreeWill might be the right tool for you.
Why did you decide to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity?
I decided to volunteer for several reasons:
1) I love working on houses,
2) I wanted to give back to the community, and
3) it makes me feel good!
What do you enjoy most about being a Tiger?
I still consider myself a baby cub but there are several reasons I love the idea of being a Tiger:
1) I love the camaraderie and working on a team,
2) I love sharing my knowledge (directing volunteers), and
3) I love learning new things. As I am not yet retired (and will probably never retire) I can use the knowledge I gain volunteering in my freelance design work. (Check out her work here!)
Why did you decide to create a free will?
I have been needing to create a will and circumstances just sort of fell together what with the Covid craziness, extra time on my hands, and the fear that if I did pass, someone would have to make a lot of decisions and take care of my stuff. The FreeWill option just showed up on my radar at the right time. I also like the idea that it is free! It fits my budget!
How was using the FreeWill tool?
I have not completed the process but so far, I find the tool very easy to use. The one thing the tool cannot do for you is all the prep work necessary as you will see in my next answer.
Do you have suggestions for how folks can prepare before starting the tool?
1) Know what your assets are!
2) Decide what you are going to leave to who.
3) Elect an executor and have a conversation with that person.
4) Pick a guardian for kids (and/or pets) – have a conversation with that person.
What compelled you to leave a legacy gift with Habitat?
I don’t really know – it just felt right. There might not be much when I die but even $10 is something, right?
Denise is absolutely right – every gift, no matter the amount, makes a difference in the lives of Greater Indy families…for generations.
Creating a will is one of the most impactful ways to support the people and causes you care about. As you think about the future, we invite you to peruse FreeWill to write your legally valid will in under 25 minutes.
Thank you, Denise, for your continued and broad support of our homeowners, volunteers, staff, and mission!