Habitat for Humanity marks 5th anniversary of Women Build

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LEE COUNTY, Fla.- For the fifth year in a row, hundreds of women in Lee County will kick off their stilettos for steel toed shoes and help rehab two homes, for two families, in two weeks.

This year will mark 10 families who have been given a hand up through the Women Build program of Habitat for Humanity of Lee and Hendry Counties. Women Build is an initiative to encourage women to take action against poverty housing conditions by recruiting, educating and inspiring women to build-and advocate for-simple, decent and affordable homes in their communities.

Over the last five years, 1,263 Women Build donors raised $425,320 for Habitat for Humanity of Lee and Hendry Counties , and then 737 volunteers contributed 2,878 hours to rehab eight homes for families in need.

“I realized how important affordable housing was when I began to see the rental rates for a single family home increase to an average of $1,000 a month in my real estate career. The rising rates put homeownership out of the reach of families, especially single mothers. I knew I had to do something to make a difference, and Women Build has given me that platform. I continue to volunteer for Women Build every year to give back to hard-working moms in our community. The impact it has on the children is worth it alone, we are creating a place where they can feel safe and call home,” said Jeannie Steidel, Women Build 2015 Captain for the Dream Team, and a realtor with ReMax Realty Group.

In Lee County, over 17,000 families spend more than 40 percent of their income for rent. Many renters are forced to move often, requiring children to change schools and lose academic momentum.

Through volunteer labor, donations of material and funds, Habitat provides decent homes for qualified low-income families, with 0 percent mortgages. Mortgage payments are set at 30% or less of family income, keeping the home affordable.

“The women of Women Build have changed my family’s life. My son and I now live in a safe, welcoming neighborhood, thanks to the hard work of many women through the course of the Women Build process. My son now has a yard where he can play freely without me worrying about his safety. I am so grateful to Habitat for Humanity of Lee and Hendry Counties and the Women Build program for giving us this opportunity. I have been so inspired by the work of the volunteers who came together to make our dream come true,” said Vanessa Saez, 2014 Women Build Homeowner.

The local initiative coincides with Mother’s Day for its significance; as families with children make up a staggering number of those in need of adequate housing. Work on the homes is scheduled to begin April 25 and continue through May 8, pending the fundraising goal of $100,000 is achieved. Rehab work will be completed in time for dedication of the homes on Saturday, May 9, when keys to the homes are turned over to the new homeowners. During Women Build 2015, homes will be rehabbed in San Carlos Park as well as Cape Coral

During National Women Build Week May 2-9, Habitat affiliates across the nation join with women from all walks of life to address the housing crisis that has resulted in more than 12 million children living in poverty conditions in the United States.

Local women are needed to help raise $100,000 to fund the rehab of the two homes, and to provide womanpower (men are welcome, too) for the construction. For more information on donating or participating call 239-652-1677 or click here to visit the Women Build website to create your team today.

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