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How to make a difference in the affordable housing crisis

Blake MacKenzie
Posted by Blake MacKenzie on 4:05 PM on September 16, 2019

Our five-year, $55 million fundraising campaign to double Habitat homeownership opportunities for local families, Multiplying the Impact, is right on track. If you’ve donated or volunteered, you’re part of this campaign. Thank you.

Jim MulrooneyIt’s going to take all of us digging deeper to reach our goals. A great way to do that is to commit to a multi-year financial pledge.    

For Jim Mulrooney, Wells Fargo, Great Lakes Region Government Banking Leader, and his wife Natalie, making a multi-year pledge to Twin Cities Habitat was the natural next step in their growing relationship with Habitat.

“My recent engagement with Habitat stemmed from my awakening to the severe housing shortage that the Twin Cities is facing,” Jim says.

“I remember driving down Hiawatha and seeing the homeless encampment popping up and then growing. I am embarrassed to admit that I was naïve to the true scope of the shortage in housing – particularly units that are affordable to a family earning the median income or less in our community. I wanted to learn more about this problem and become part of the solution.”                

That opportunity came when Dave Kvamme, former Wells Fargo Community Banking Upper Midwest Lead Region President and Minnesota CEO, and co-chair of the Multiplying the Impact campaign, invited Jim to get involved. One of the first things he did was a Habitat build day, and he was inspired by the passion he saw from his fellow volunteers and Habitat staff. He learned new skills and felt like he was part of a community that was getting down to work and making a difference. When he was asked to join the Multiplying the Impact campaign council, it was an easy yes.

Jim volunteering with his team from the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce.Jim volunteering with a group of members from the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce.

As Jim learned about the dire need for more affordable housing and got involved with Habitat, his eyes were opened to the fact that a stable home is critical to so many other things like health, education, job security, and more.

“I came from a two-parent household with five brothers and sisters, and I had a great sense of peace and stability,” Jim recalls. “I knew that I could go try new things and fail because I always had a home to come back to. For me, home was stability, warmth, and love. I didn’t realize that this foundation wasn’t a reality for a significant percentage of children growing up in our region.”

Jim volunteeringJim on the Habitat site with Kathleen Lohmar Exel, Executive Director, Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

Jim and Natalie decided that they could step up their support to make sure more local families had that same firm foundation of home. They will give their time through volunteering, advocacy, and financial support.  

Jim has already led two Habitat build days—one with his family and friends, and another with a group of members of the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce. Natalie is currently working on a volunteer event for families with school-aged children who can volunteer their time and energy to help address this need. Jim and Natalie also realized that a multi-year pledge would give the campaign the sustained effort it needs to succeed.

“We know we can’t address this affordable housing shortfall all at once,” Jim says. “It takes time and dedication—time for some stumbles and falls, and ultimately successes and wins. It’s important for everyone who is passionate and committed to the common mission to provide ongoing financial support if you can.”

Over the course of the Multiplying the Impact campaign, we’ve already doubled the number of families buying homes with Habitat each year—from about 50 to more than 100 in the last fiscal year. But housing costs are rising quicker too, so we need to sustain and expand the homeownership program to make a lasting impact.

Jim's family
Jim and Natalie volunteering with family and friends.

Jim sees the difference Twin Cities Habitat is making at the local level, and is excited that other Habitat affiliates around the country are starting to pick up on our innovative homeownership model.

“We’re a creative community with so many resources,” Jim says. “If we can solve this problem here at home, we can then take our learnings and share them with other communities.”

If you also want to join the effort to create opportunities for families to provide that stable foundation of home, Jim encourages you to volunteer and experience Habitat. He also encourages you to reflect on the importance of a stable home.

“Think about what your home was like growing up, or what you wanted your home to be like. What do you think of when you think of home? What does it mean to you? What did your home allow you to do? Now, wouldn’t it be amazing if more people in our community could have a similar experience in their homes? If you want to help, here’s how: give your time, give your money, and give your advocacy. It’s fulfilling, and you will be joining a movement to be part of the solution to give families the stability and gift of ‘home’.”

Join the movement. Help us multiply the impact. Give and take action today.


Tags: Donor Spotlight, 2019

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