Valley’s Voice: Homes create strong futures

Habitat Vail Valley works to build homes, hope and community

Home is the foundation for everything – a stable life, better behavioral and physical health and a stronger community. As the year comes to a close, I’ve been thinking a lot about the importance of community: Its positive impacts on health and well-being and how it roots you in a place. A home sets the tone for a strong foundation and for a strong community.

We live in a resort town, and it can feel transient at times, however there is such a strong community here. It’s special, and this time of year, even with the hecticness, it can feel magical. We get to call this place home. I love living where I run into friends and neighbors, whether it’s at an early morning workout, at the grocery, in the lift lines and even at my boys’ school. I love being a small part of weaving the fabric of our community.

Last week I had the joy, and I really mean the joy, of running into a Habitat homeowner. Liz, along with her three sons, moved into a Habitat home 16 years ago. Right from the start it was clear Liz wasn’t afraid to set lofty goals and achieve them. She showed up every week to build her home, hours spent quietly formulating a plan to keep her life moving forward.

Liz went to college and then got her master’s degree, studying late at night as her boys slept, driving to and from Grand Junction. She got her degree in education and has been working in Eagle County School District since. Last week I saw her in the hallways of Battle Mountain High School. We both couldn’t believe the number of years that have gone by, but it solidified that homeownership creates community. And one critical path to build more community, for people wanting stay and grow here, settle down and maybe even grow old here, is through more homeownership opportunities.

We’ve always looked for innovative, incremental solutions and this year we’ve found it at our modular Third Street project — 16 homes more than our typical home-building number. We’re continuing to search for solutions to root people in the community.

Without partnerships, without committed volunteers and people willing to set (and achieve) audacious goals, our community is in peril. Fewer people are able to settle down and grow here.

We’ve made an $18M goal to invest in our housing infrastructure. I am thrilled to report we’ve raised over $14M towards that goal. This is money that will be invested in creating more homeownership solutions. I want to make sure there is community here, today and well into the future. It’s on all of us to preserve the specialness and grow the opportunities for those who live here — allowing more long-time locals to settle down and build their community.

During this busy holiday season, whether you are serving our guests or serving your family, or both take a deep breath, and make the time to connect with your people — go find your community.  Join us in being hope and home builders, in finding community and helping others feel at home.

Elyse Howard is the director of development at Habitat Vail Valley. The organization will crane in modular homes in January in partnership with 16 new homeowners. Learn more