What a year this has been! Coming into 2020 we had big plans. Our Board of Directors had undertaken a strategic planning process that addressed growing our capacity across the entire organization. We were poised to fire on all cylinders, having just completed the final home of 16 at our Heritage Oaks neighborhood. We were right on the verge of launching a capital campaign that would help us to cover the cost of infrastructure in a new development we call “Heritage Oaks II (or Part 2)”.

Well, there’s an old saying in building – measure twice and cut once. We never anticipated what would come from the second pull of the tape measure…

Thankfully, as an essential business (builder of affordable housing) our affiliate office didn’t lose a single day due to the pandemic. ReStore had to take a short pause while we figured out how to operate at optimum safety. Our construction efforts took a beat for the same reasons.  I am pleased to say that things got back on track on all fronts, with minimal setbacks.

Not every challenge has been COVID-19 related. Thankfully, our homeowners and affiliate locations were not damaged by the wildfires. A troubling development is the significant increase in homeowner insurance rates. This has had a financial impact on Habitat homeowners. Our Homeowner Support services team has worked tirelessly to provide new tools to our homeowners in the hope that they can find affordable insurance rates in this volatile market.

Having said that, there is still an abundance of things to be grateful for. To name just a few:

  1. Habitat Supporters. Our donors remained generous, and in most cases increased their giving as a way to express that they know how important having a safe and affordable home is.
  2. Habitat Volunteers. Whether on the construction site, at ReStore or in the office, our volunteers form the backbone of our organization – and they prove it every day.
  3. Habitat Homeowners. They have demonstrated remarkable strength during the pandemic. Many are courageous front-line workers. I’m proud of them, also, because not a single homeowner in Nevada County fell behind in their mortgage. What a testament to their commitment to maintaining stability during a time when home has never been more important.

I’m very proud of our ReStore team. Coming back stronger than ever from a brief closure demonstrated a crystal clear dedication to our cause and customers. The ReStore staff and volunteers know what they do is important, and we are honored by their efforts.

Also, we have found some positive takeaways amidst the chaos:

  • Behind the scenes our Board of Directors and committees have learned the ins and outs of working together remotely. Doing our work in a different way has improved organizational efficiency, saving time and lowering expenses.
  • We have strengthened our communications output in 2020, with more positive stories of homeowner success.
  • As I write this, we are building three homes simultaneously, and poised to start a fourth! We know more than ever that safe, stable, affordable housing is vital to our community.

We remain positive that, as the pandemic recedes, we’ll come together again stronger than ever. Regardless of the obstacles we sometimes have to face, all of us at Habitat are grateful to be able to do this meaningful work every day.  No matter what happens, Nevada County Habitat will continue building, thanks to all of you.


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