News & Event
May 03, 2019
As the cost of housing continues to rise, the demand for affordable housing is clearly evident with Habitat seeing a 140 percent in the number of applicants over the prior year. Gratefully the number of volunteers generously donating their time to Habitat’s mission has also seen a dramatic increase, with 878 volunteers contributed an unbelievable 24,144 hours, equivalent to a $613,982 donation. Volunteers that attended the event were served a meal catered by West Bay Gourmet and all volunteers received reusable insulated shopping bags sporting the Habitat logo (fittingly timed, given the growing ban on plastic bags).
“This April, we’ve had more than 60 families apply for the Habitat Homeownership Program.
Rent and homeownership costs are skyrocketing, while wages are not keeping pave. Far too often families locally are struggling to make ends meet. We may be a small affiliate, but thankfully we have a mighty base of dedicated volunteers, whose efforts are changing lives and providing opportunities for families across Washington County, but there is still more work to be done,” said Alicia Johnson, Volunteer and Family Services Coordinator.
In addition to celebrating the massive efforts of all volunteers, the evening concluded with the presentation of the affiliates two major annual awards. The J. Whitney and Nancy Bancroft Long-term Service Award was presented to Sue and Alex Amoruso of Narragansett, who have been volunteering with Habitat in many capacities for more than 18 years.
The Mark Smith Volunteer of the Year award was presented to Michael Faggella of south Kingstown, who has made a profound impact on the organization in the past year with his efforts to strengthen ties with the University of Rhode Island student chapter of Habitat for Humanity.
About South County Habitat for Humanity
South County Habitat for Humanity is dedicated to eliminating substandard housing locally and worldwide through constructing, rehabilitating and preserving homes; by advocating for fair and just housing policies; and by providing training and access to resources to help families improve their shelter conditions. For more general information, call 401-213-6711 or visit our website at www.southcountyhabitat.org.
Courtesy of The Narragansett Times
By: Philip Cozzolino
CHARLESTOWN - Habitat for Humanity has welcomed a new face as its executive director. Colin Penney took over the position on Oct. 30 after a nationwide search. Penney takes over the post from Lou Raymond, who is set to retire later this year after 15 years of service to the Charlestown non-profit organization, a branch of the nationwide non-profit which seeks to provide affordable, quality housing for all. In announcing the appointment, Val Henry, president of the South County Habitat for Humanity Board of Directors, was excited to welcome Habitat’s new leader. “We are extremely excited to welcome Colin to South County Habitat,” Henry said. “We look forward to his leadership as we work together continuing in our mission of providing affordable housing in our community.”Henry went on to say the search for a new executive director led South County Habitat on a nationwide exploration of candidates that included over 150 applicants. Of that pool, Penney was the organization’s top choice. Penney comes to South County Habitat with over 15 years of experience in non-profits and affordable housing, and has extensive experience working with Habitat for Humanity various chapters across the country, both as a volunteer and staff member. Most recently, he served as the program director for Habitat for Humanity of Mahoning Valley in the Youngstown area of Ohio. Youngstown, Ohio is currently one of the most affordable places in the country to live – a stark contrast from the pricey real estate market of New England.
“Land [in northern Ohio] has very little value because there’s lots of it available,” Penney said when asked what would be different between the two locations. “Working in a community where oftentimes the land is just as valuable as the materials you’re putting onto it adds an additional challenge to affordability in the area. And as land values continue to increase as more and more people want to move to such a wonderful area, that lack of land and access to land is definitely going to be an ongoing challenge that Habitat will be facing.” Penney became dedicated to combatting homelessness while studying sociology and anthropology at Ohio Wesleyan University, working with the Columbus, Ohio homeless population and studying how city growth and new infrastructure had triggered a system in which low-income individuals were forced from their homes and into the streets. While working as Mahoning Valley Habitat for Humanity’s Program Director, Penney was directly responsible for all of the organizations volunteer recruitment and training and selection of homebuyers. Working directly with those preparing to become homeowners for the first time, Penney assisted with mortgages, loans and payment collection.
As executive director for South County Habitat, Penney will oversee all operations of the non-profit organization.
“A lot of my experience, particularly on the loan and mortgage side, is something we’re really looking to remodel with the new affiliate and take the affiliate in a new direction to try to simplify and bring a lot of that [work] in-house,” he said. “It will be a big benefit.”
“I’m really looking forward to getting to know the community,” Penney continued. “Habitat really is a community-based organization, we couldn’t do it without our hundreds and hundreds of volunteers and all the donations that are coming everywhere from the University of Rhode Island to local businesses to community members who want to take that time either swinging a hammer or open their wallets to make a donation. I’m really looking forward to integrating myself into that community, getting to know as many folks as I can and figure out what the biggest need is in affordable housing.”
When asked about those housing needs unique to South County and New England, Penney spoke to the effect short-term rentals have had on the local housing market.
“I think one of the really unique housing issues in South County is the kind of housing carousel,” he said. “Where there’s individuals who might not qualify for traditional home loans through a bank but are very stable financially and just aren’t quite ready for that next step, and as a result, they’re forced to rent. With the nine-month academic rental paired with the three-month summer rental, finding consistent, year-round housing is incredibly difficult and very expensive and adds a lot of stress to individual families.” Being a native New Englander originally from Vermont, Penney is excited to return to the northeast.
“I have been fortunate to build with so many Habitat affiliates across the country, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to return to New England and serve a community so close to where I was raised,” the new executive director said. “I have seen the impact Habitat has on the lives of its homeowners, the hearts of its volunteers, and the spirit of the local community it serves. I look forward to rolling up my sleeves and getting involved as quickly as possible.”
October 26, 2017 08:16PM
By Catherine Hewitt, Sun staff writer
CHARLESTOWN — South County Habitat for Humanity announced Friday that Colin Penney has been named executive director, effective Oct. 30. He will take over for Lou Raymond, who will retire later this year after 15 years of service.
Most recently Penney, 34, served as program director for Habitat for Humanity of Mahoning Valley, in Struthers, Ohio, near Youngstown. He has more than 15 years of experience in nonprofits and affordable housing, and has worked with Habitat as a volunteer and staff member.
Penney got his start working on housing issues as a student at Ohio Wesleyan University, where he studied sociology and and anthropology. He worked with the homeless in Columbus, Ohio, and studied how city growth and new infrastructure had forced low-income people out of their homes.
Val Henry, president of the board of directors, said, “We are extremely excited to welcome Colin to South County Habitat and we look forward to his leadership as we work together continuing our mission of providing affordable housing in our community.” Henry said the board conducted a nationwide search that attracted more than 150 applicants.
Penney, a native of Vermont, said he was excited to return to the Northeast. “I have been fortunate to build with so many Habitat affiliates across the country, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to return to New England and serve a community so close to where I was raised,” he said. “I have seen the impact that Habitat has on the lives of its homeowners, the hearts of its volunteers, and the spirit of the local community it serves. I look forward to rolling up my sleeves and getting involved as quickly as possible.” For more information go to www.southcountyhabitat.org.
September 26, 2018 04:41PM
CHARLESTOWN — South County Habitat for Humanity is conducting an emergency fundraiser following the theft of $20,000 worth of tools and equipment from a construction trailer at a building site in Exeter.
The theft occurred between Monday evening and Tuesday morning when the trailer was broken into, according to a news release from the nonprofit organization. Habitat had recently started construction of a duplex home in Exeter and the theft was discovered when crews showed up to work on the house.
Habitat for Humanity said the theft not only causes a financial burden but also creates a delay in construction of the home for two families in need of housing.
“It’s very disheartening when something like this happens,” said Colin Penney, executive director of the South County group. “It makes a tremendous impact on our efforts of helping families find affordable housing in the area. It’s hard to build a house without any tools or equipment for our volunteers to use, but we are focused on minimizing the delay and impact on these two families that the house is for.”
Those interested in helping with the fundraising effort are asked to visit www.southcountyhabitat.org for more information.
Most of the stolen tools and equipment were marked with “SCHH” on them. The group encourages anyone with information about the stolen tools and equipment to contact Trooper Lauren E. Lanoie at the Hope Valley Barracks of the Rhode Island State Police, 401-444-1068.
Habitat serves the towns of Charlestown, Exeter, Hopkinton, Narragansett, North Kingstown, Richmond, South Kingstown, and Westerly.
The items included a $3,000 construction generator, two dozen nail guns, and circular saws worth $300.
Courtesy of The Westerly Sun
Thursday, June 20, 2019
Habitat organizations across the country are mobilizing to influence policy and system change at the federal, state and local levels
Charlestown, R.I. Nearly 19 million households across the United States are spending at least half of their income on a place to live, often forgoing basic necessities such as food and health care to make ends meet. In Washington County, 62% of households cannot afford the median priced home which is currently a staggering $312,000. The stability that housing should bring continues to remain out of reach for many people.
On Wednesday, South County Habitat for Humanity joined Habitat organizations across the country to launch a new national advocacy campaign aimed at improving home affordability for 10 million people in the U.S. over the next five years.
Marking significant growth in Habitat’s commitment to ensuring that everyone has a safe and decent place to call home, the Cost of Home campaign seeks t identify and improve policies and systems through coordinated advocacy efforts at the local, state and federal levels.
Cost of Home focuses on improving housing affordability across the housing continuum in four specific policy areas: increasing supply and preservation of affordable homes, equitably increasing access to credit, optimizing land use for affordable homes, and ensuring access to and development of communities of opportunity.
South County Habitat for Humanity already has taken several steps toward these goals. Recently SCHH joined the Housing Network of Rhode Island for a rally at the state house to bring attention to the ever increasing need to invest in affordable housing opportunities. SCHH has also began conducting ‘advocacy trainings’ to train volunteers, staff and supporters how the effectively advocate with local and state officials.
“Our goal with advocacy efforts such as the Cost of Home campaign is to shed light on the severe shortage of affordable housing, particularly in Washington County. The number of cost-burdened families applying to our homeownership programs has tripled in the past year. There needs to be a greater emphasis on affordable housing at the State and Federal levels so we can start working together towards a solution,” remarked Colin Penney, Executive Director of South County Habitat for Humanity.
More details about Habitat’s Cost of Home policy platform and campaign activation are available at habitat.org/costofhome. For more information or to speak to South County Habitat for Humanity about the campaign, please contact Alicia Johnson at email@example.com or 401.213.6711 x300.
About South County Habitat for Humanity
South County Habitat for Humanity is dedicated to eliminating substandard housing locally and worldwide through constructing, rehabilitating and preserving homes; by advocating for fair and just housing policies; and by providing training and access to resources to help families improve their shelter conditions. For more general information, call 401-213-6711 or visit our website at www.southcountyhabitat.org
Courtesy of The Chariho Times
By PHILIP COZZOLINO | Jun 2, 2018
NARRAGANSETT — Speaking to a legislative commission earlier this month, Narragansett Town Planner Michael DeLuca described some of the challenges Narragansett and other Washington County communities are facing in attempting to supply more affordable housing.
DeLuca, representing eight towns in Washington County, explained a variety of issues with the current Rhode Island Low and Moderate Income Housing Act, passed in 2004, which mandates that 10 percent of a municipality’s housing stock be designated as affordable housing. Currently, the state only grants that designation to deed-restricted units on government-subsidized properties. In testimony to the Special Legislative Commission to Study the Low to Moderate Income Housing Act, a group chaired by state Rep. Shelby Maldonado (D-Dist. 56, Central Falls) with members including Rep. Blake Filippi (R-Dist. 36, Block Island, Charlestown, Westerly, South Kingstown), DeLuca argued certain properties that are not currently designated as affordable housing under the mandate, such as in-law apartments, apartments rented with Section 8 vouchers and properties with “natural” affordability, should be included.
“The presence of several forms of ‘natural’ affordability is not accounted for anywhere in the current law,” said DeLuca. “As noted by Glocester, the existence of dozens of mobile homes in defined neighborhoods that sell well below the average cost of a subsidized permanent home should be rightly acknowledged and accepted in each town’s qualified inventory.”
“Additionally, virtually every town has small enclaves of lower valued permanent homes making up the neighborhoods that younger and/or lower income families gravitate to for a first home,” DeLuca continued. “Those homes that are not deed-restricted are assessed (and sell) at a value below the Town’s ‘affordable’ base price, could likewise be considered for counting in the Town’s affordable inventory.”
In addition to Narragansett, DeLuca was also representing eight other communities in Washington County including Richmond, North Kingstown, South Kingstown, Hopkinton, Charlestown, Westerly and Exeter.
do get a place in Narragansett stay.”
“Then there’s naturally affordable housing - housing that rents in the same range as the state would consider acceptable in a low-moderate income apartment that is deed-restricted,” said DeLuca. “We have non-deed-restricted market housing that’s renting in the same range - we can’t count that.”
By KELLY SULLIVAN
CHARLESTOWN – South County Habitat for Humanity, located at 1555 Shannock Road in Charlestown, will be hosting a Community Resource Fair on Aug. 25.
This free event is open to all South County residents who would like information and guidance on the services available to give individuals and families a hand up during difficult times.
A dozen different area organizations will be present at the fair and include the following:
Al’s Moving Minds; a non-profit agency for senior citizens living with memory loss. The volunteer-run agency offers customized programs and socialization for those with early-to moderate-stage dementia.
The Domestic Violence Resource Center of South County; offering safety, support, advocacy and education to victims of domestic abuse. Since 1978, the center has been providing a network of services to those who have suffered, or are suffering from, the effects of violence or abuse.
Easter Seals Rhode Island; offering a wide range of services for individuals and families challenged by disability. By providing resources necessary for quality living, learning, working and playing, the organization has been making profound differences in the lives of those with disabilities for nearly a century.
The Education Exchange; providing adult education services in an environment that embraces diversity. Since 1978, the agency has been empowering students through the opportunities for personal growth, job readiness and workforce skills.
The Exeter Job Corps Academy; a no-cost education and career technical training program administered by the U.S. Department of Labor. Individuals aged 16 to 24 are provided with the technical and academic training that can greatly improve the quality of life.
The Jonnycake Center of Westerly; providing services in cooperation with other area agencies to individuals and families in crisis. The non-profit agency provides food, clothing and financial assistance to residents of the Westerly-Chariho area, while helping them to find a path out of dependency.
Neighbors Helping Neighbors; a non-profit charitable organization that helps to keep South County residents living safely in their homes after unexpected events, such as floods or fires, demand costly home repairs.
Operation Stand Down Rhode Island; started by veterans for the benefit of veterans, the organization’s mission is to give back to those who served and protected our liberties. Offering services and housing to homeless veterans, they help to ensure that struggling vets are able to get back on their feet.
Perspectives Corporation; a multi-faceted agency that helps those with intellectual, developmental and other types of disabilities live quality lives and pursue their dreams. Regardless of the severity of a disability, the programs and services offered by the agency ensures that any individual can have the opportunity to participate in and contribute to society.
The Rhode Island Interfaith Coalition to Reduce Poverty; champions the eradication of poverty in Rhode Island and includes congregations of every faith from across the state. By helping to provide affordable housing, nutritious food, accessible healthcare, equitable education and employment with decent wages, the coalition assists in laying the foundation for a better future.
Tri-County Community Action; providing accessible social educational, health, prevention and other services to people in need since 1964. The organization offers a wide range of services to empower needy individuals in achieving their highest possible level of self-sufficiency and quality living.
The University Of Rhode Island Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; providing assistance with food costs to low-income individuals and families.
The Warm Center; offers care and services to the homeless and needy. The 19-bed adult shelter contains a community soup kitchen that serves lunch and dinner each day of the year. The organization’s services include assistance with finding affordable housing, case management, job development, clothing and other supportive programs.
The Community Resource Fair will run from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. If you are a veteran, a senior citizen, an individual living with a disability, a caregiver, someone undergoing a financial crisis, or if you just want to find out more about the services offered to those in need in South County, stop by and talk to one of the agents or pick up some information.
Courtesy of The Chariho Times
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