Hometown Habitat News

Mending the Gap to Generational Wealth

Homeownership is a key that unlocks the doors of stability, security, and financial freedom. For families, it is an opportunity to pass down assets from generation to generation. Generational wealth can be defined as assets such as home/properties, cash, stocks and bonds, investments, etc. that can be passed down to one’s children, grandchildren, or chosen family.

For many, homeownership is the first and only introduction to generational wealth and with the current affordable housing crisis, this introduction moves further and further away. Furthermore, the lack of affordable homeownership is also widening the racial gap between minority and white homeowners. Black families embarking on their journey to homeownership continue to experience housing discrimination from banks, realtors, appraisers, etc.

A previous study conducted in 2021 showed that the homeownership rate for black homeowners was 46.4%

in comparison to 75.8% for white homeowners.

How can this be? Black Americans have less access to quality jobs and have lower wages. Black Americans are less likely to gain approval to capital for businesses, loans for home purchases, and/or home repairs. These barriers directly contribute to lower homeownership in the black community. Although the wage gap is significant across both gender and race factors, the income disparity greatly diminishes the ability of black families to increase their net worth, causing a heavy reliance on their home value.

So how do we intervene in this vicious cycle of housing inequality? Habitat for Humanity International and its affiliates, to include Habitat Lake-Sumter, have taken an intentional approach to strategize and advocate for solutions that address the inequitable access to homeownership. One strategy includes increasing community engagement through educational workshops and supportive services. By utilizing this strategy, we can expand opportunities for financial education and programs that provide tools and knowledge needed to prepare Black Americans for homeownership. This approach not only ensures access and opportunity for Habitat homeownership programs, but for other homeownership opportunities as well, while building community partnerships. Another strategy is increasing awareness and expanding our Preservation & Repair programs. Home maintenance and preservation repairs have a tremendous impact on a family’s ability to maintain their home value, retain their home assets, and transfer generational wealth.

We understand the invaluable opportunities that affordable homeownership brings to families, which includes providing generational wealth.

Having an affordable home provides the foundation for stability and financial freedom for families to set goals that can improve their family’s outlook and their future generations. Everyone deserves access to an affordable, safe, and decent home, and Habitat for Humanity is committed to doing our part to be the change in our communities.




Written by Geria Forrest 2024

In Loving Memory: Dorothy Wallace

in loving memory of dorothy wallace 2023

We are saddened to share that our dear friend, Dorothy Jean Wallace entered eternity on April 22nd, 2023. We were first introduced to Dorothy when she became a homebuyer with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, Florida in 2016 and she has been a part of our family ever since.

After receiving the keys to her home, Dorothy was often a familiar presence at our office, volunteering throughout the week, donating to support other families in our community, and showing up with baked goods in hand, simply to say ‘hello.’ We will carry many fond memories of Dorothy forward and hope to share them with you.

Dorothy Wallace was not only a Habitat homeowner but a valued volunteer and friend to many in the Habitat family.  Upon closing her home, she was most excited to start her garden – veggies, flowers, all the delicious things bees loved.  She liked spending time on her back porch, but she was also so excited to begin volunteering with Habitat because she believed in offering others a helping hand as they had so kindly done to her.  More often than not, when she came to the office, she would bring home-baked treats for the staff and loved to make her sweet-spiced nuts, she would share the “nuts are heart healthy” so everyone should enjoy them.  Every day when she arrived, she had a smile on her face, words of wisdom and joy, and was ready to pray for anyone that needed it at a moment’s notice.– Danielle Stroud, President and CEO, Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter

Quite a few years back Dorothy asked to meet with me, and she was not like many others who seek after Habitat’s help for housing.  She was one who took ownership of her housing needs.  When we met, she quickly presented me with a Commitment Letter from HUD stating that she had (on her own) gone and submitted and applied for a HUD pre-approval loan.  As a result, she was approved for a federally insured HUD loan for a specific sum of money.  She promptly asked if we could provide her with a house for the amount of her pre-approval, and when I told her she was a bit short she indicated she would be open to a rehab house if we had one.  It just so happened that we had one and while her pre-approval was not quite enough to cover the cost of acquisition and repair, it was very close.  As a result, we were able to provide her with a 2nd mortgage so that she was able to secure and afford a home of her own.

Dorothy was always optimistic and thankful for the opportunities she had, and though she could have – she never played the victim card – she ‘owned’ her situation and worked and disciplined herself to make the most of the opportunities she had – truly a remarkable trait that endeared me to her, and we became lifelong friends.  I will miss her greatly! Kent Adcock, Former CEO, Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter

Thank you, Dorothy. We love you.

Buying Whole Food Ingredients with Chef Ze!

buying whole foods 2022

So far in this series, we’ve looked at five inflation-busting tips, planning meals in advance and now I want to discuss buying whole food ingredients and how this can save you money. When you hear the term whole food, don’t think of the famous grocery store chain, but think of basic ingredients that are used to make meals.

A perfect example of a whole food ingredient would be heavy cream. While it is seen as an additive to sauces it can also be used to make butter. There are a lot of benefits to using whole food ingredients. The benefits are endless but here are my three favorites:

  1. Whole food ingredients are less expensive.
  2. Can be used in multiple meals.
  3. Are better for your health

The easiest way to incorporate whole food ingredients into your meals is staying away from the center aisles and shopping the outer aisles of your grocery store and staying away from mixes, and flavoring sauces. Sure, using whole food ingredients is more time consuming but the health benefits and the potential amount of money you will be saving is more than worth it in the end. Here are a few whole food ingredients and the dishes

  1. Oranges- jam, marinade, citrus salad, the juice can also be used as sweetener for teas and other drinks.
  2. Flour- sure you can make homemade bread, biscuits, cakes, and can also be used as a breading when frying and a thickener for homemade sauces and gravy.
  3. Tomatoes- ripe tomatoes can be used to make sauces, and are the perfect base for vegetable juice blends and of course salads.

While this is a brief list of whole food ingredients and their uses, the list goes on. I suggest going through your cabinets and looking at the ingredients in your prepackaged meals and mixes and make an effort to buy the ingredients separately.

In our next article, we’ll review the importance of understanding your food groups. I hope you’re finding ways to incorporate these ideas into your own family’s budget, and, as always, thanks for reading.

Chef Zè signature

Veterans Housing Initiative Appeal 2022

2022 Veterans Housing Initiative

Right now, there are too many Veterans in our community living in unsafe housing conditions. But with your support, we can help!

We’re taking the month of November to honor our Veterans and their families by providing safe, decent, and affordable homes through our Veterans Housing Initiative.

Thanks to you, we’ve served more than 50 Veterans. Veterans like Casey, who was a part of the last patrol deployed to Iraq in 2010. After returning home, Casey became the sole caretaker of her mother and they desperately needed accessibility repairs in their home.

Casey was taking her mother to a local gym to use the shower, but the emotional and physical burden they faced to do a simple task became unbearable.

You can change Casey’s life.

Will you give $10, $25, $100 or whatever you can today?

Casey will be able to take care of her mother. No more stress over a daily task. No more safety concerns. No more visits to use the gym shower.

Because of you, Casey and her family will have a safe, healthy home.

Thank you for standing with our Veterans.

In Service,

Danielle Stroud signature

Danielle Stroud
Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter, CEO

P.S. Your gift of $5o provides a life-changing critical home repair. Will you partner with our Veterans this November?

Donate Today!

Planning Your Meals in Advance with Ze Carter

planning you meals in advance with chef ze carter

Last month I shared with you five inflation-busting tips to help your food dollars go further. This month I want to expand on one of those principals: Planning Your Meals in Advance.

The concept of pre-planning meals is certainly not a new one, but it is essential if you want to make the most of your monthly food budget. Besides saving you a lot of money, pre-planning your meals gives you an opportunity to make healthier food choices for you and your family. Here are five tips to help you make the most of planning your meals:

  1. Plan your meals according to the season. Although technology has made many foods available year round, mother nature is still the boss when it comes to peak harvesting times for fruits and vegetables. Knowing when a fruit or vegetable is at the peak of its harvesting season will benefit you because it will taste its best and it will also be more economical to buy.
  2. Start small by planning only a few days at a time. Meal planning is not complicated but can seem overwhelming at first. Taking it day by day then expanding to a week will help you build your core recipes and family favorites. As you get comfortable doing that, you can expand your planning to an entire month, which will make this task less challenging.
  3. Shop the sales. You can plan your meals in advance then plan around your local grocery store sales. Compiling several weeks of planned meals will allow you to shift meals around according to whatever items are on sale. 
  4. Plan themed meal nights. Discover foods from different regions and incorporate this into your meal plans; for example, Taco Tuesday and Amazing African Inspired Friday.
  5. Leave a free day–plan on not planning! Whether that’s having a leftovers day or choosing to grab an occasional meal out when you’re busy, it’s okay. Don’t punish yourself for not cooking.

So far in this series, we’ve looked at five inflation-busting tips and planning meals in advance. In our next article, we’ll review buying whole foods. I hope you’re finding ways to incorporate these ideas into your own family’s budget, and, as always, thanks for reading!

Chef Zè signature

Five Inflation Busting Food Tips Everyone Should Follow

Five Inflation Busting Food Tips Everyone Should Follow with Chef Ze' Carter

Hi, my name is Chef Ze’ and I have been teaching cooking classes for almost two decades. I love to cook but what really brings me joy is sharing cooking tips and life-altering nutritional information. I believe that food is life and everyone deserves good food. With that being said, part of my mission as a Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter board member is to share my knowledge of food and the food industry to help foster my sentiments.

Understanding your finances and how they affect your household can help your family through times of economic uncertainties. I am not a wordsmith but I bet that the word of the year will be INFLATION, and there is no way that anyone can escape its effects. However, as consumers there are ways that we can control how much it affects our bottom line, especially in the kitchen. When it comes to food consumption, cutting back is not always an option; for example, if your family includes children and seniors, their specific nutritional needs cannot be easily ignored.

To tackle food inflation, embracing basic culinary concepts can be a lifesaver. Understanding the foundations of proper nutrition will help you expand your food budget and give your family what it needs without breaking the bank. Practicing the following concepts will help you maximize your food budget:

  1. Understand the basic food groups and what foods are included- MyPlate.gov is where you can find this information along with some easy recipes.
  2. Buy whole food ingredients- convenience foods such as pre-sliced or individual serving size foods may seem like time savers but in reality, they are budget-busters and actually cost more per serving. Buy the bigger or bulk bag and invest in reusable containers and break it down yourself.
  3. Make dinner preparation a family affair- even the youngest member of the family can contribute to meal planning and execution. Every family is unique and whoever is in charge of meal prep can capitalize on those qualities and involve the entire household. Studies have shown that families who are involved in meal planning are more likely to eat healthier.
  4. Plan your meals in advance- when you plan your meals ahead of time you are able to properly prepare by gathering ingredients and assigning family members their roles in the meal prep.
  5. Eat seasonally available foods- MyPlate.gov provides a list of fresh fruit and vegetables and their seasonal availability. Although you can find many fruits and vegetables year round, nature is still the boss and many are best harvested and grown during certain times of the year. For instance, you can find citrus all year long in the grocery stores but peak season for citrus is during the winter months, when the fruit is at its best and more affordable.

Understanding the basic food groups and involving your family in meal planning is just the beginning to a more affordable grocery bill. There are more components such as basic knife skills and learning how to read food labels, just to name a few. Please look for your newsletter next month as I share more kitchen knowledge.


                   Chef Zè signature

The Power of Planned Giving: The Lucille A. Smith Fund

the power of giving 2022


In 2009, a gift of $179,000 was given to the Community Foundation of South Lake to establish an endowment that would benefit Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, Florida in perpetuity.  Over the past ten years, the fund has awarded $123,347 to Habitat to support the work we do in Lake and Sumter Counties. At the start of 2021, that fund had a value of over $196,000.

When an endowed fund is created, lasting community impact is ensured through a permanent charitable fund. Lucille’s gift is invested over time, and a percentage of the fund’s market value is used annually to make charitable grants to Habitat Lake-Sumter.

Lucille A. Smith may no longer be here, but her legacy lives on through her thoughtful and planned gift to ensure her most cherished charity would be supported. Lucille was born in Elizabethton, TN. In the 1950’s she moved to Clermont, FL to raise her family and where she enjoyed being a part of the First Baptist Church of Clermont, along with many clubs and activities.

Today, and forever, Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter will benefit because Lucille cared enough about her community and had the vision to see the lasting impact of her gift. Anyone has the opportunity to make the same type of impactful gift.

We know that safe, decent, affordable housing provides a cornerstone for families to build healthier lives full of promise. Whether you would like to put your donation to work today or benefit families after your lifetime, a planned gift ensures that your legacy will continue in your community for generations to come.

There are many options to create lasting and meaningful change through Habitat Lake-Sumter, learn how you can build a legacy, now and in the future.

Interested in learning more about leaving a Legacy Gift, but not sure where to start?

  • Call or email Lacie Himes at (352) 483-0434 x 146, Lacie@HabitatLS.org to learn more about how to leave Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter in your will, trust, or annuity plan.
  • Download Example Bequest Language (opens in a new window)
  • Copy and paste our full legal description below when planning a gift to benefit Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter: Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter Foundation, Inc., a non-profit corporation, organized under the laws of the State of Florida, with its principal office located at 906 Avenida Central, The Villages, FL 32159– Federal Tax ID #: 47-2312472

Board Member Spotlight: Jordan Hawkin

2022 Board Member Spotlight: Jordan Hawkins

As a lifelong resident of Lake County and graduate of Tavares High School and Lake Sumter Community College, Jordan Hawkins is a true local. Married to wife, Jenna, and raising three sons, together they are continuing the tradition of making Lake County their hometown.

Jordan currently resides in Umatilla, FL and has been employed by the United Southern Bank for the past 16 years, working in their commercial lending department.

He has been on the Habitat Lake-Sumter Board for almost one year and believes his banking and financial experience help provide insight to the Board when making financial decisions.

“Habitat has done a great job helping people obtain homes. In today’s market, where prices are rising rapidly, incomes often do not afford the opportunity to save enough money for a down payment while paying for rent and other necessities. Habitat clearly makes homes much more affordable for many hard working people”

Jordan has also been very impressed by the community out-reach programs undertaken by Habitat Lake-Sumter. Of particular interest is the Preservation and Repair program. As a part of this program, Jordan participated in the Umatilla Block Party as a community advocate. He, along with other Habitat staff members, identified homes in Umatilla in need of repair and/or maintenance. Jordan said, “Homeowners were thrilled with the offer of help to do those things that they could no longer do for themselves.”

A second project Jordan got involved in was Habitat Lake-Sumter’s annual playhouse build event, Jingle Build-Off. United Southern Bank was one of many corporate sponsors involved in building playhouses for kids. Local families had the opportunity to apply for playhouses and in their application provided ideas that would appeal to their kids and steer creative construction plans. Jordan, together with another volunteer, led a team of Umatilla High School students in the construction of a playhouse with a Jurassic Park theme. “Seeing the enthusiasm from the kids when presented with the completed project was awesome. Imagine a playhouse with a dinosaur cracking through the roof! The kids were so excited!”

Jordan is pleased to be a part of the Habitat Lake-Sumter Board and providing hands-on experience to help so many local families. He is very thankful for this opportunity and Habitat Lake-Sumter is grateful for his enthusiasm and expertise.

Written By: Kevin Vogt

Board Member Spotlight: Michael Pape

Michael Pape, Board Member Spotlight 2022


Meet Michael Pape

A native Texan but a Floridian since age 3, Michael found his ultimate career path through both service and education at the US Naval Academy and the University of Florida.  During his 42 years in Central Florida, Michael Pape and his professional firm, Michael Pape and Associates PA, has served countless clients with land planning and landscape architectural services, most notably via his primary role in planning, designing, and creating The Villages since 1986.  Throughout his career as a landscape architect, land planner, and arboriculturist, Michael has focused on the spirit and creativity that goes into designing places that are an essential part of the community . . . places for people to come together to live, work and play, and to enjoy each other and their lifestyle.  It was in this professional capacity that Michael first became involved with Habitat of Lake-Sumter, assisting in the planning, design, and permitting of the Umatilla Veterans Village, the Cottages at Heritage Grove in Tavares, and other potential projects.  Having become semi-retired this year, Michael was pleased by the opportunity to volunteer his expertise directly as a member of the Habitat Lake-Sumter Board, while also enjoying other activities for which he now finds time with his wife, Trish, including travel, hiking, biking, boating, and their first grandchild, born in February.  

Why join the Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter Board?

During his time working as a professional consultant and design team member with Habitat, Michael cites the inspiration he gained from working with Kent Adcock and Danielle Stroud on the creative approach reflected in projects like Veterans Village and the Cottages at Heritage Grove, seeing the unique way they served the organization’s mission while creating places with a true sense of community and personal belonging for their residents.  Joining the Board felt like the perfect way for Michael to contribute to this mission as he gained more time to volunteer his talents during this stage of life. 

What you are looking forward to achieving over your Habitat term?

Michael hopes to combine his experience and skills with those of the Staff and the other Board members, to envision and implement the kind of cutting edge community projects by which Habitat has forged a new and exciting path in the mission to achieve community housing opportunities.  Likewise, he looks forward to adding to the Board’s network of professional friends and colleagues to expand Habitat’s base of support in the community.


“I am honored and privileged to join this impressive group of folks that currently serve on the Board. These are caring and involved people, dedicated to serving and enhancing Lake and Sumter Counties, and I foresee a better opportunity than ever for us to increase awareness of Habitat’s mission and engender greater enthusiasm, participation, and support for this exceptional organization.”   – Michael Pape

Meet Angie, our newest Veteran Advocate

Angie B. in the Army photos

Angie is a proud U.S. Army Veteran who served for 6 years in St. Paul – Minnesota, Fort Bragg – North Carolina, Camp Eustis – Virginia, and Camp Stanton – S. Korea. Angie gives a face to and represents many of the statistics we hear frequently when speaking of female Veterans, Angie is a survivor. Her experiences in service to our Country have left her dealing with PTSD, homelessness, and depression over the years. That never stopped Angie from moving forward time after time, using her past experiences and skills to now help Veterans like her get the help they need.

Angie and her husband Elbert love to spend time at their home in Minneola, hanging out with their son and 3 pets. But until recently, their housing stability seemed to be in jeopardy as they didn’t have the necessary funds to afford a roof repair, they were in danger of losing the house they’d grown to love. “We desperately needed a roof, or we would lose home insurance and end up homeless,” said Angie

Until one of her friends referred her to Habitat Lake-Sumter.

Thanks to grant funds through The Community Foundation of South Lake, we were able to provide the repairs the Batica family needed, and a partnership with the Owens-Corning Roof Deployment, a program that lends a helping hand to struggling veterans, enabled us to replace the roof.

“This is our way of thanking them and giving back for everything they did to serve our country,” says Travis Foster, area sales manager for Owens-Corning, “to give Angie and her family a peace of mind and know that they’re safe, that means a lot to us.”

The new roof was installed in early Fall and to honor Angie and the veterans in Lake and Sumter counties, we celebrated Veteran’s Day volunteering alongside Knights of Columbus and Michael’s Foundation to put the final touch on the Batica Family home, a new exterior paint job.

Angie now serves as an advocate for Habitat Lake-Sumter on United Way’s Mission United advisory board for Veterans in Lake and Sumter Counties.

Angie says, “Thankfully Habitat for Humanity came to the rescue.” When asked what difference the repairs made in Angie’s life, she stated, “Oh the difference is between being homeless or not, which I’ve experienced already. The rest are no more leaks, mold, stains. We thank our higher power for this and are over the moon with joy. Our hearts are full. We will be able to stay safe, stay in our home & enjoy it even more!”

Thank you to our community partners, Community Foundation of South Lake, Owens-Corning Roof Deployment, and many others for sponsoring this project and making Angie’s home a safe haven for years to come.

South Lake Community Foundation, Owens Corning, The Home Depot Foundation Project Sponsors

YOU can give the gift of a safe and healthy home!

Summer Appeal 2021 Preservation and Repair
We share a belief that everyone deserves a decent place to live.

Home is foundational to improved health, stronger childhood development,
and the opportunity to build a better future.


Through our Preservation and Repair program, we partner with very low-income families who own their home but due to life circumstances are unable to maintain the safety and accessibility of their home.

You can give the gift of a safe home to Lisa, will you donate today?

Lisa has owned her home for 24 years, but due to financial and physical constraints, Lisa has been unable to keep up with the repairs her home needs. As the primary caretaker of her disabled son, Lisa just wants her home to be safe, but her home has faulty and dangerous electric work that desperately needs repaired and a roof that leaks every time it rains.

With your help, we will repair the home’s critical electrical issues and repair the roof, but better yet, we will change the quality of Lisa’s life.

Today, your gift of $25, $50, or $100 will be used to make Lisa’s
home safe!

Do You Know?
Unsafe housing has direct and documented negative health outcomes, especially
for children. A healthy home is a vaccine that provides both immunity and resilience.

Together, we can build a healthy home.


Contact: Lacie@habitatls.org | (352) 483-0434 x 146

house footer

Board Member Spotlight: Mike Cashwell

Board Member Spotlight Meet Mike Cashwell

Hello, I am Mike Cashwell, age 35, married to my wife Crystal and father to our son, Hunter and daughter, Paige.

I am a third generation Lake County citizen. This long-term familial connection brings not only sense of pride but also a sense of responsibility. The responsibility to invest in my community where everyone has the opportunity to build a secure, prosperous, and rewarding life.

Early on I built a sustainable landscape, maintenance, and construction business that fifteen years later employed 40 people. By providing a secure income for so many families, I felt I was giving back to my community and am very proud of this effort.

The importance of “giving back” was the primary reason why I sought to be a member of the Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter Board. As a board member I will have the opportunity to influence decisions on how we will fulfill our mission to build homes and hope, while at the same time impact community outcomes in a very positive way. Affordable housing is a big problem. It is not available to many in our community. Being on the Habitat Lake-Sumter Board will allow me to learn, understand, and hopefully refine what it takes to create housing that folks can not only afford but take pride in as well. I believe I bring real world knowledge and problem-solving capabilities which, together with other Board members, will allow us to provide the leadership needed to accomplish our goals. I believe that making housing more attainable needs to start at the state and local level. Builders are not incentivized to build affordable housing as impact fees are the same regardless of the size of the home. We need to find ways to shift the paradigm.

Being able to own and afford your own home does so much for individual families while at the same time enhancing communities. Through affordable housing we can positively impact the security of families and give them the pride and respect that comes with homeownership.

Thank you for inviting me to be a part of the Habitat Board.


Written By Mike Cashwell – Habitat Board Member

Edited By Kevin Voght – Volunteer 

Board Member Spotlight: Meet Gail Baker

Board Member Spotlight: Gail Baker

From being the first female president at Lake County’s Reunion Bank of Florida, to being a super mom to two daughters and wife of her husband Jeff for 27 years; Gail Baker brings a powerful background and endless enthusiasm to the Board of Directors of Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter.

“I enjoy volunteering because it creates a team spirit and it makes a huge difference in someone’s life,” says Gail, newly appointed member of the board. “I look forward to working alongside my peers in the Habitat mission.”

Gail Baker has lived in the Lake-Sumter area of Florida for 25 years and has grown to love and cherish the work at Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter. Gail has partnered with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter for over three years, prior to becoming a board member.

“Making a difference in someone’s life is what inspires me to do what I do,” Gail says. “Firstly, Habitat for Humanity provides safe, decent and affordable housing for individuals and families who work hard every day to make a difference for themselves. Without Habitat, these dedicated individuals may never achieve such goals that so many take for granted. Secondly, Habitat provides sound financial education, which leads to long term personal success.”

Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter has been serving the community since 1989 and has four main initiatives: Home Ownership, Preservation and Repair, Veterans Housing Initiative, and Construction Academies; with the ultimate purpose of creating communities where everyone has a decent place to live. 

Gail also serves as treasurer for the Lifestream Foundation Board and in her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family. Gail is looking forward to serving the board to the best of her abilities and providing a positive and enthusiastic outlook to the team.

Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter is grateful to have such an experienced and positive person on the board in Gail, one who strives to inspire and encourage those around her.



By Katrina Machetta

Affordable rent is ‘Out of Reach’ for many in Lake & Sumter

out of reach 2020


$24.00 per hour.

That’s how much you would need to earn from a full-time job to afford a two-bedroom apartment in Lake County in 2020. This comes from the latest edition of “Out of Reach” (OOR), the annual report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC). According to NLIHC, the OOR “documents the significant gap between renters’ wages and the cost of rental housing across the United States” and its findings illustrate the breadth of the affordable housing crisis nationwide, including here in Lake and Sumter Counties.

The OOR’s primary measure of this gap is the Housing Wage, defined as “an estimate of the hourly wage a full-time worker must earn to afford a modest rental home at HUD’s fair market rent (FMR) without spending more than 30% of his or her income on housing costs, the accepted standard of affordability”. In other words, the Housing Wage is what a full-time worker (40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year) should earn per hour to afford rent plus utilities in their area at a fair share (30%) of their income. Most workers’ wages don’t come anywhere near this number, which means affordable housing is out of their reach. The Housing Wage for Sumter County is $16.69 per hour and while that is significantly lower than Lake County’s $24.00, renters in Sumter still face substantial challenges in finding affordable housing.

single mother with 2 children

Lisa would have to work 112 hours per week to afford a 2 bedroom apartment in Lake County

single man

Jamie makes $11.86 an hour and still struggles to find an apartment he can afford in Sumter County.

Lake and Sumter County residents and workers make difficult choices when it comes to how they pay for housing. At the current minimum wage in Florida of $8.56 per hour, renters in Lake County need to work 112 hours per week to afford the FMR. In Sumter, the figure is 80 hours per week, but that is still two full-time jobs. Assuming a 40-hour work week at minimum wage, the maximum rent affordable is only $445, barely over a third of FMR for Lake and half of FMR for Sumter. Even for those renters earning the estimated mean hourly wage of $13.65 for Lake and $11.86 for Sumter, the monthly rent they can afford falls far short of FMR, at $710 for Lake and $617 for Sumter. Limiting their housing costs to 30% of income is simply not an option for many families in the area. Some service sector workers choose to live outside of the area where rents are more affordable and make long commutes to work. Others settle for housing arrangements that are insufficient for their families’ needs.

Policy solutions are badly needed, along with the political will to support them. At the local level, impact fees on new developments are often at odds with efforts to build more affordable housing. Federally, housing assistance is grossly underfunded. The OOR and NLIHC’s website provide examples of federal housing programs that can help solve the housing crisis, including the national Housing Trust Fund and Housing Choice Vouchers. For more information and to read the full report, click here to visit https://reports.nlihc.org/oor.


By Brian Salmons

Giving Tuesday Now: a day together

Giving Tuesday Now: Homes, communities, hope + you

#GivingTuesdayNow is a new global day of giving and unity that will take place on May 5, 2020  – as an emergency response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19.

Families who were already struggling before the public health crisis began now face exacerbated setbacks caused by the economic upheaval. Local families continue to struggle in the financial instability and uncertainty of recent times.

In fact, the families who partner with us are often those who are particularly at risk. The uncertainty so many of us feel today, many families have felt for a lifetime- if not generations.

As a friend of Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, join us and use the individual power of generosity to stay connected and help heal our community. Whatever you can do — monetary or not — will mean a lot.

Read the rest of this entry »


CARES Act, family

On March 27th, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act was signed into law and Congress passed a long-awaited for “universal” giving incentive, this is particularly beneficial for taxpayers who do not itemize their deductions.


If you are someone who does not itemize on your taxes:

The CARES Act makes a new above-the-line deduction available for total charitable contributions of up to $300 per taxpayer. The above-the-line adjustment to income will reduce your AGI, and thereby reduce taxable income. Additionally, you will not have to itemize other items to claim this deduction (Section 2204 of the CARES Act).

The incentive applies to cash contributions made in 2020 and can be claimed on tax forms next year.


If you are someone who itemizes on your taxes:

The CARES Act also lifts the existing cap on annual contributions for those who itemize, raising it from 60 percent of adjusted gross income to 100 percent. For corporations, the law raises the annual limit from 10 percent to 25 percent. (Section 2205 of the CARES Act).


What does this mean for you? You can support Habitat Lake-Sumter’s mission and receive new tax benefits typically reserved for higher thresholds of giving.

The duration of the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a public health emergency to bring a spotlight to the housing crisis. The uncertainty so many of us feel today, many families have felt for a lifetime- if not generations.

The time is now: to begin the work of building back our community, the foundation is the place to start. Living in a safe, healthy, and affordable home alleviates the burden of unreliable rent costs and out-of-reach mortgages; a home with Habitat gives families the opportunity to build a better future and make today more manageable.


 The CARES Act is the first giving incentive Congress has passed in response to a disaster or national emergency—an acknowledgement by Congress that the work of nonprofits, like Habitat Lake-Sumter, is an essential service.

Board Member Spotlight: Monica Wofford

Monica Wofford

Board Member Spotlight

Monic Wofford, CSP

Chief Executive Officer | President | Founder
Contagious Companies, Inc.

From fond memories to a sense of moral responsibility, one of Habitat for Humanity’s newest board members, Monica Wofford, appreciates both the joy and necessity of giving back.

Wofford recounted her earliest connections to the mission of Habitat which can be found in the walls of homes that have stood for decades. “Mind you, I must have been five or six at the time of those builds as those homes are now close to twenty years old,” says Wofford who’s grateful for the opportunity to return to Habitat in a leadership role.

The lasting impact of those early builds, the enduring nature of the structures she helped to build at that early age, exemplify the reasons she has again chosen to share her talents with Habitat. “Habitat for Humanity provides the structure that surrounds the family,” says Wofford. “Call it a house or home or dwelling, with that in place, there is greater potential for a family not to worry about the basics and to be able to focus on not only being a responsible member of a community, but on helping others.”

Wofford says that the cyclical nature of giving promoted by Habitat is what motivates her to contribute her time, resources and energy to the organization. As she puts it, “providing a family or veteran with a home to call their own, solves not only one of their greatest needs, but fulfills the needs of those who wish to give back with their hands and with service.” And with that “foundation,” Wofford believes Habitat’s homeowners are better positioned to pay-it-forward, creating exponential value as they “give or do for others in the community.”

In addition to her role with Habitat for Humanity, Wofford shares her time and expertise with The United Way, as well as the Lake County Republican Executive Committee, where she serves as Secretary. She says that her ability to work with non-profits in this capacity has ebbed and flowed with the seasonality of her own life and career and feels fortunate to now have time again to be involved with nonprofits that share her values of service to the community.

“There have been times in my life when I served on as many as five boards simultaneously. There have also been times when I have found the need to focus almost solely on building or growing my business and spending time with my family,” says Wofford who went on to note that she finds her service to the community comes from a combined sense of obligation and passion which she aptly describes as a “labor-of-love.”

The business Wofford has spent time building is the Contagious Companies, Inc. where she holds the titles of CEO, President and Founder. Wofford says she has had the privilege of professionally speaking to audiences, writing books, and training adults, and consulting leaders across various industries from healthcare and government agencies to tech and entertainment.

Danielle Stroud, Director of Development at Habitat for Humanity, says Habitat for Humanity is extremely fortunate to have added Monica Wofford to the organization. “She brings a combination of enthusiasm, experience and leadership that is extremely valuable on its own,” says Stroud. “But her ability to elevate the conversation and the talents of those around her is immeasurable for an organization with an already exceptionally strong board of directors.”

Wofford says she’s looking forward to sharing the skills she’s acquired and developed as she built and led her company and is excited to learn new skills by serving Habitat for Humanity and working closely with the other talented staff and board members that serve the organization. “Our goals as an organization are exciting and our leadership is certainly doing a masterful job in both running and growing the results of every board and team members’ efforts,” says Wofford.

“We share Monica’s sentiment that working with, and for, Habitat is both a labor-of-love and an opportunity to satisfy a moral responsibility to the communities we live and work in,” says Stroud. “We’re excited to tap into that passion and look forward to helping Monica create even more fond memories of working with Habitat for Humanity!”

By David Larrick

What Am I Doing Here?

I’m very excited to return to the Board! It is remarkable how many things are happening in our affiliate and how many ways we’re interacting with our communities to address the need for affordable housing in Lake and Sumter Counties.

Why am I involved?

Because I believe that home ownership changes everything: the owner, the family, the local community, our schools, and our economy. It impacts physical, mental, and financial health. It supports local businesses and improves students’ academic success. And in the big picture, any area that wants to promote its quality of life must recognize that a safe, decent place to call ‘home’ is vital to everyone.

I’m involved with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter because they’re on the front lines of this issue. Making housing affordable—meaning that no more than 30% of monthly income goes to the mortgage, taxes, and insurance—means a family has breathing room to handle the rest of what life brings.

And I’m involved because I know first-hand the importance of getting help to buy my first home. Long, long ago, in a decade far, far away, I bought my first place, a row house, with the help of a state-sponsored, first-time home-buyer’s program. I became the proud (and nervous) mortgage holder with a subsidized 11.5% fixed rate mortgage at a time when market rates were hitting 18%. Yup. You read that right. Can you imagine? And I knew I was getting a deal at 11.5%!

Decades have passed; mortgages have changed and so have rates (I, of course, haven’t changed a bit), but the need for programs to make home buying affordable hasn’t. I love that we’re building beautifully designed, energy-efficient, right-sized houses for a variety of needs, whether it’s aging-in-place, singles, or families.

It’s great to be a part of an organization that’s building hope and passing the keys to a “quality of life” to buyers who have worked hard to qualify. Your Hometown Habitat covers a big territory and does it with big hearts, big plans, and even bigger visions for the future. And I’m blessed beyond measure to be invited into all of that.

-Lee Owen
Board Member and Community Advocate

(from left to right)
Ray Sanfratello, Christina Campbell, Lee Owen, Rick Miller, Brad Weber, Matt Lovo, Bill Neron, Felix Ramirez, Paula Whetro, John Maze

Cost of Home Campaign

What does the Cost of Home mean to you? Habitat for Humanity has started a national ‘Cost of Home’ campaign and Habitat Lake-Sumter wants YOU. The advocate. The community partner. The game changer. The YOU that wants to make a difference.

Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter celebrates their 30th Anniversary this year, 2019! In 30 years of service we’ve built more than 230 homes locally and repaired dozens of homes to be safe and accessible throughout Lake and Sumter counties. Yet, according to the 2018 State of Affordable Housing Florida Report “nearly one-third of households in the United States face cost burdens, with housing requiring either 30 percent of their income (cost-burdened) or 50 percent (severely cost-burdened).”

These burdens leave households with very little income to buy food, health care, and other basic needs; 50% of their income spent on housing leaves members of our community– friends, family, and neighbors– struggling to afford the necessities.

As Habitat of Lake-Sumter partners with other affiliates nationwide, we ask that you partner with us to promote an awareness of the housing affordability crisis.

Learn about the Cost of Home Campaign, Post a picture using one of the #CostOfHome templates, tell us what the Cost of Home means to you, and if you’re ready to be an advocate—JOIN US!

Everyone deserves decent, safe, and affordable housing.

Cost of Home

Habitat for Humanity Advocates in D.C.

Judy Woodruff speaking at Habitat on the Hill 2018

Representatives of Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter were in Washington, D.C., this week, warning that proposed federal cuts will worsen the affordable housing crisis facing Lake and Sumter counties and other communities across the United States.

“Too many people in our communities are already struggling between making their housing payments and buying food for their family,” said Kent Adcock, CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter. “We are in Washington, DC, to ask our representatives on Capitol Hill to make greater investments in affordable housing, not less.”

The budget proposed by the White House this week would drastically cut—and in some cases entirely eliminate—funding that communities use to finance the development of new affordable homes. Funds from programs like the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) allow access to capital for infrastructure and development, while funding from the Home Investment Partnerships Program (HOME) offers down payment assistance to families – ultimately allowing homes to become affordable for the families who need them.

Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter joins more than 340 Habitat leaders, volunteers, and homeowners from across the country in Washington, D.C., this week to advocate for affordable housing. In meetings with Congressman Daniel Webster and Mario Diaz-Balart, Habitat for Humanity is calling on Congress to set aside the flawed budget proposal and instead work to prioritize solutions that will end the affordable housing crisis.

“There is no question that we are in an affordable housing crisis,” said Adcock. “More than 18 million families are paying more than half of their paychecks on their housing. Leaders in cities and towns across the country are sounding the alarm, because even middle-class workers like teachers can no longer find housing that fits their budgets. We will make sure those voices are heard in Washington this week as we meet with members of Congress.”

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