Home for the first of many holidays

November 15, 2018 | GET MORE : Community

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U.S. Bank helped develop a financing structure that has made homeownership possible for thousands of people.

Ambera Pruitt and her two young daughters spent years moving around and struggling to make ends meet. They lived in constant uncertainty due to unpredictable rent increases and seemingly no path to homeownership.

But now, just in time for the holidays, Pruitt will be on stable footing – literally – as a new Habitat for Humanity homeowner. 

“This home will bring us stability and a place where me and my daughters can build memories together,” says Pruitt (pictured above on left). “It is a safe place my daughters can call their own.”

As a Habitat homeowner, Pruitt will pay an affordable mortgage, having completed a financial education program and put in hundreds of hours of “sweat equity” building her and others’ homes alongside volunteers. 

Those volunteers were U.S. Bank employees earlier this fall at Habitat’s annual Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project. As part of the weeklong event in Mishawaka, Indiana, homeowners and volunteers – including former President Carter and comedian David Letterman – built a community of 23 homes. Pruitt’s daughters are among more than 40 children moving in with their families.

Research conducted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development found that in areas where homeownership flourishes, neighborhoods are more stable, schools are better, and crime rates decline. Moreover, it generates wealth for families.

“Homeownership can transform a family and a community,” said Natosha Reid Rice, associate general counsel at Habitat for Humanity International. “When a family has a stable and secure place to call home, they can establish healthy routines that allow each member to thrive, create a space where dreams blossom into reality and build wealth that benefits the family and the surrounding neighborhood.” 

U.S. Bank support for Habitat expands beyond operating power tools, to crunching numbers. A decade ago, U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation (USBCDC) met with Habitat for Humanity International to develop a new markets tax credit (NMTC) financing structure that continues to serve as a model for the home construction and improvement work. At the time, NMTC had not been used for constructing affordable housing and USBCDC employees saw an opportunity to bring additional financing resources to help the nonprofit build more homes. 

The bank made its first such investment, of $25 million, to help Habitat rebuild New Orleans neighborhoods and other areas along the Gulf Coast that had been severely impacted by Hurricane Katrina. To date, USBCDC has provided over $125 million in investments that have gone toward building more than 3,000 homes in 75 cities across the country. 

For its role, Habitat recognized USBCDC as a “sustaining investor” of the organization during the Carter Work Project – for which, appropriately, the bank invested $1.4 million in NMTC.

“Habitat for Humanity is so powerful because affordable homeownership is a key driver in helping families build economic stability for future generations,” says Bill Carson (below, with Pruitt), vice president at USBCDC. “We are thrilled to have been part of this build and help homeowners realize their dream.”

For Pruitt, working hand-in-hand – well, hammer-in-hand – with volunteers adds extra meaning. “[Volunteers] have taken time from work to help me build my dream home. I am so grateful for their help,” she said.

Now, she and her daughters are gearing up for the first of many holiday seasons in their new home.

“My daughters can finally feel proud to live in a nice home,” she said, “and now I am better positioned to provide for them and build our own future.”

Written by Marcherie Vázquez of U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation. In support of its Community Possible social responsibility platform focused on the areas of Work, Home and Play, U.S. Bank is helping employees and customers find opportunities, such as through Habitat, to give their time over the holidays.