Habitat for Humanity – Women Build!

Emily Chalker Lane, Director of Development, Manatee County Habitat for Humanity, was the featured guest speaker at the LWRWC April 13 General Meeting. As a fourth-generation Floridian, who grew up visiting building sites with her father, a structural engineer, Emily is enthusiastic about helping deserving families build better futures for themselves and their children through affordable home ownership.

Emily began her presentation sharing alarming data indicating that affordable housing is a major ongoing challenge in Manatee County and one of the top concerns for the local business community. Since 1994, Manatee County Habitat for Humanity has helped more than 126 families and 338 children obtain affordable housing and home ownership.

Emily outlined the key factors that make Habitat for Humanity so effective. It begins with careful screening when selecting families by making sure they can qualify for a mortgage and completing a background check. The next important steps include providing financial management training and requiring that the homeowners complete 300 hours of “sweat equity.” Other crucial components include using volunteers to reduce the cost of labor, ensuring that the mortgage payment does not exceed 30% of the monthly expenses; providing down payment assistance as needed; providing interest free mortgage; and providing support for the family through the life of the mortgage.

Habitat for Humanity also renovates existing houses through their Home Preservation program. Critical Repair teams save 20 to 25 homes annually. Manatee County Habitat for Humanity has a local “Restore” that only accepts high quality donations and is the biggest in the country with 3300 square feet of space and is 7th in sales in the United States.

Last but not least, Emily discussed their upcoming “Women Build” initiative where local women will help raise funds, build a home, provide snacks and sandwiches to workers, and help fill the pantry of a home for a single Mother.

The Bradenton Kiwanis just issued a $50,000 challenge to the community to raise funds for Women Build and Women’s Build is planning to start building a home in September.
LWRWC presented Emily with a $200 Donation for Manatee County Habitat for Humanity that will be used for “Women Build!”

In a heartwarming email to LWRWC Emily wrote the following message that she wanted to share with our members:
Thank you so much for the chance to share Manatee County Habitat’s work with you last evening. Your hospitality was warm, your questions excellent, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself as I always do in a room filled with interesting women. THANK YOU so much for your financial support! At a small charity such as Manatee Habitat, that kind of money makes a tremendous difference. Every dollar will benefit the Women Build and will be applied towards the Bradenton Kiwanis $50,000 Challenge. I’ll make sure Kiwanis knows of your generosity. Over the coming months, I will be building a coalition of like-minded Manatee County women who want to make a dent in the housing crisis locally. I will keep Lakewood Ranch Women’s Club informed and consider you a “member” of that coalition. We will start building Stephanie’s house in late September, and we would love to welcome anyone who cares to come out and help. Working on a Habitat build is a unique bonding experience! I am so deeply impressed by the generosity of this community. Thank you for all that you do to act locally. Manatee County is much richer for having women like you who reside here!