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Women Build

Women Build 2024: Building a brighter future

By February 23, 2024No Comments

Like many single mothers, Melissa has a lot on her plate. Working a full-time job, raising two boys and taking care of her fully disabled mother while dealing with the day-to-day challenges of life is a constant balancing act.

Paying unaffordable rent in Cape Coral leaves little wiggle room for unexpected things. Currently, she’s spending 37% of her gross income on housing expenses, which means she’s cost-burdened.

Now she’s taking matters into her own hands one hammer swing at a time by building her own home.

Habitat for Humanity of Lee and Hendry Counties’ Women Build campaign engages women and men in the effort to provide safe and decent homes for female-headed households.

Melissa working shoulder-to-shoulder with volunteers to raise the walls of her future home.

“To own and know that you’re going to have the stability of being able to afford it the next month and the next month and the next year; I will be able to afford this for a very long time,” Melissa said.

There’s a critical need for affordable housing among women in our community. This year, 75% of families partnering with Habitat to build a home are female-headed households, the group that struggles the most to achieve homeownership, especially those with children. This need inspires people to support Women Build by becoming a sponsor or a donor, leading a fundraising team or becoming a SuperPerson.

“It’s in our culture to want to help others,” said Fort Myers President of FineMark National Bank and Trust Tiffany Williams. FineMark supports Women Build 2024 as a campaign title sponsor. “Being able to help each other and others in our community is super important to us.”

Melissa is currently partnering with Habitat to achieve the strength, stability and self-reliance her family needs. She’s contributing 300 sweat-equity volunteer hours, attending more than 20 hours of homeownership and financial literacy classes, meeting regularly with a Habitat housing advisor and will pay $2,000 towards closing costs. Finally, at closing, Melissa will purchase her home through Habitat with a mortgage payment set at no more than 30 percent of her income.

“She came to us with the need, the ability to pay and the willingness to partner. But her first step was to walk through our doors,” said Habitat’s VP of Strategic Partnerships Elisha Baird. “This year, we will collectively raise $450,000 for the female-headed households in our program.”

With support from the community, families like Melissa’s can achieve their dream of homeownership.

“I’m grateful for everybody in this process,” she said.