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Nov 18, 2022

Building Hope

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For many in our community, homeownership is something that can seem unattainable right now. The current state of the housing market is maintaining elevated prices across the board despite rising interest rates.  More and more residents are priced out. That’s where Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity steps in to help build homes, communities, and of course, hope

Cape Fear Habitat is a more than just a nonprofit that builds homes for families in need – it is a 35-year model of providing equitable access to homeownership opportunities for low-income families. It is often a misconception that Cape Fear Habitat “gives houses away.” The reality of the opportunity is far from that. Homeowners complete a minimum of 250 partnership hours by building homes for their neighbors and their own home, volunteering in our three ReStore locations or at events, and attending monthly financial counseling and homeownership education courses. Once these hours are complete, homeowners close on their home and pay an affordable mortgage that does not exceed 30% of their gross monthly income. These homeowner mortgage payments go right back into the proven, sustainable Habitat model and help pay for the construction of future Habitat homes.  

Having security and stability at home catalyzes a chain reaction of positive side effects – better health, a sense of empowerment and self-sufficiency, and better educational outcomes. Affordable homeownership is the single strongest avenue for building wealth in our country for low-income families.  Historically, the families Cape Fear Habitat serves have been families of color, who have multi-generational ties to their communities where they live and work, and most of the homes have been built in historically black neighborhoods. We work diligently to assist communities that are often marginalized or haven’t had equitable access to affordable housing resources in the past. The majority of our homes are purchased by essential workers who are the lifeblood of New Hanover, Pender, and Duplin Counties. These healthcare workers, education system employees, first responders, and others are the people we rely upon each day to support the quality of life in our community. Additionally, the tax value for Habitat homes across the three counties we serve is over $36 million. In short, an investment in Cape Fear Habitat is an investment in our community. 

Looking ahead, Cape Fear Habitat is committed to continuing our mission of providing affordable housing opportunities and building hope in the Cape Fear Region. We recently completed a 27-home neighborhood in Ogden and are working on three new developments that, once completed, will provide another 57 Habitat homes. In addition to building new homes, we are preserving affordable housing through our now permanent Rebuild program. Alongside a number of community partners, we provide essential home repairs to primarily seniors and veterans to return their homes to safe, livable conditions. Thanks to the support of the Wilmington community, Cape Fear Habitat has built the foundation to serve approximately 45 families per year, and we look forward to continuing this vital work in the years to come. 

To learn more about Cape Fear Habitat’s services, volunteer opportunities, or ways to give, please contact [email protected], or visit our website. 


Lauren McKenzie, CPA, has served as Cape Fear Habitat’s Executive Director since April 2021. Lauren is responsible for Habitat’s overall management, ensuring that all areas of operations complement one another and support CFHFH’s mission to provide and preserve home ownership opportunities  to families with low and moderate incomes. 

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