Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity celebrates 30 years of service

February 5, 2013

February 11, 2013 marks the 30th anniversary of Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity, the very first Habitat for Humanity affiliate in North Carolina.

“It took us 18 months to build our first house,” recalls Executive Director Lew Kraus who has been at the helm since 1988 and is incidentally the longest serving Habitat for Humanity Executive Director in the U.S. “This year, we will build 14 new houses and complete 30 home repair projects.”

While Asheville Area Habitat remains committed to building new homes, the organization has expanded its services in recent years to include the repair of existing homes in the community.

The non-profit has directly served nearly 1,000 adults and children and indirectly served thousands more thanks to the generational and societal impact of Habitat homeownership.

The organization grew slowly the first 5-7 years, and then the ReStore opened in 1990. With sustaining income generated by selling donated items to the general public, Habitat was able to expand its house building programs.

The success of the ReStore was instrumental in the continued growth of Asheville Area Habitat’s programs. In 2003, the ReStore relocated to its current location, 31 Meadow Road. Increased revenue from the much larger store enabled the affiliate to double its house production within a few years. “It took 18 years to build the first 100 houses and the second 100 houses were built in just 9 years,” notes Kraus. Since the relocation and expansion nearly ten years ago, ReStore sales have increased 600%!

In addition to sustaining income from the ReStore, homeowner mortgage payments help fund Habitat’s building programs. “Habitat is not a give-way program. Habitat homeowners and families that have partnered with us for home repair services pay back 0% interest loans. This year alone, more than $600,000 in payments from Habitat families will be put towards our building programs,” notes Kraus.