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Blake MacKenzie

Blake MacKenzie

Blake MacKenzie's journey with Habitat began in 2013, and in that time he's worked as a Development Assistant Intern, Advocacy Intern, Development Associate, and is now the Communications Specialist. Prior to Habitat, he graduated from Concordia College in Moorhead with majors in English Writing and Biology and a minor in Chemistry, and worked as a Community Organizer. He's an avid reader, makes a good risotto, and enjoys the great outdoors.

Building Community Blog

It was halfway through our Habitat advocacy day in D.C., and we were really starting to feel the five miles of walking. Our group of eight Minnesotans had split up to meet with our Representatives in Congress, but we were now back together in the offices of Minnesota Senator Tina Smith. She would be joining us in a minute, but for now we were gathered around a conference table, talking with her staffer, Adam Schiff, who focused on housing issues.

Twin Cities Habitat recently expanded its homeownership program to include the option of buying with Habitat on the open real estate market. Qualified homebuyers still receive the same education and support to become successful homeowners, and then they can work with a realtor of their choice on the open market. This allows folks to buy a home they love with a mortgage they can afford.

We caught up with a few people who bought homes with Habitat on the open market. They shared how long their home search took and some of their top tips.

When Don and Jo Gustafson finally sat down to create their will, they found it to be a surprisingly simple process. And their decision about what to do with their home was just as easy: they would donate it to Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity. That decision was years in the making.

We all have our own stories of home. This series shares those stories from Habitat staff. We'll explore questions like: what does home mean to us? How did we find a stable home? How do our stories inform our work? And how do Habitat's mission, vision, and values resonate with our experiences?

This story is written by Blake MacKenzie. He's our Communications Specialist, and has worked at Habitat since 2013.


My mom still owns the home I grew up in. It was built in 1960 and is situated on a hill. Bricks wrap around the front entry, soaring up along the chimney. Beyond that the hill dips down, revealing windows to the basement. Growing up, I liked to say it was four stories tall (really, it was a split-level, with two stories on each side). 

With Thanksgiving just days away, are you looking forward to or dreading the family table conversations? If you fall into the latter category (even if you don't), you might get a good laugh from this 2015 sketch on Saturday Night Live called "A Thanksgiving Miracle." In the sketch, a family barely makes it into their Thanksgiving dinner when they start arguing. But then something happens that miraculously brings everyone together: Adele's hit song "Hello" starts playing, and no one can resist singing along. It's hilarious.

At Habitat, we know something else that brings people together: home. We believe that everyone deserves a safe, stable place to call home. When we advocate for policies that support affordable housing, politicians of every political stripe get on board. Here are a few ideas of things you can do with your family that also make a positive difference for housing in the Twin Cities.

Deborah has fond memories of her childhood. Her mom was a natural host, and her home was always filled with people. Friends, family, neighbors—anyone and everyone was welcome at Deborah’s mom’s place.

“She was like a counselor to our friends,” Deborah remembers. “All of our friends would come over to my mom’s house and stay the night.” It was the place to be.

“I’m glad she rubbed off on me!” she adds, laughing, because Deborah’s just the same way—always having people over.

Now, Deborah’s Habitat home is the place to be.

Happy World Habitat Day!

Over 30 years ago, the United Nations established the first Monday in October as World Habitat Day. 

According to the U.N., this day is meant for us "to reflect on the state of our towns and cities, and on the basic right of all to adequate shelter. It also reminds us we all have the power and the responsibility to shape the future of our cities and towns."

It's a day for reflection and action. It's for us to think globally, and act locally. 

Have you (or someone you know) been interested in Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity's homeownership program, but you have a few questions first? You've come to the right place. 

We've compiled some of the top questions we've received from people who are interested in Habitat homeownership. Check them out and see if they answer your questions.

Photos by Paul Dinndorf

You might hear the term “affordable housing” used often, whether in the news or by someone you know. Sometimes misconceptions around affordable housing cause the term to take on a negative connotation. But a home that’s considered affordable – meaning the resident is paying no more than 30% of their income on housing – is a win for everyone.

Here’s some facts about affordable housing to set the record straight.

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