Habitat Choptank Expands Construction Staff to Grow its Mission

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Habitat for Humanity Choptank is pleased to announce several staff changes within its construction team. This reorganization is part of the overall implementation of the nonprofit’s strategic plan for growth in Dorchester and Talbot counties. Launched in July 2015, the plan provides a blueprint toward expansion for the board, staff and volunteers. It is the result of a more than 12-month review and planning process involving input from some 100 different stakeholders.

Goals in the plan provide guidance and direction for increasing Habitat Choptank’s traditional self-help home ownership program and for the addition of other housing services in the target communities where it operates. In response to identified community needs, the forecasted growth is both geographic and programmatic. Habitat Choptank will work concurrently in four communities within its two county service area – Easton, St. Michaels, Cambridge and Hurlock; operate at a level to complete at least eight home sales per year; build stronger neighborhoods through quality, sustainable new construction homes and rehabs, and through Neighborhood Revitalization; and develop well-prepared home owners using right-sized financing combined with education, support and relationships pre- and post-settlement.

From L-R, Wayne Suggs, director of construction, Rhodana Fields, neighborhood revitalization manager, Jim Thomas, construction supervisor for Talbot County and Scott Baynard, construction supervisor for Dorchester County. Photo by: Jay Shotel

Since the launch of this plan, Wayne Suggs has joined Habitat Choptank’s staff team as director of construction. This is a new position for the nonprofit. Suggs oversees the pipeline of new home ownership projects including working with site acquisition and managing site development.

Once construction begins, the day to day effort of ordering supplies, working with construction volunteers, and scheduling subcontractors is handled by the construction supervisors. Jim Thomas is supervising new construction and rehab projects in Talbot County. Next door in Dorchester County, Scott Baynard has taken the lead.

Meanwhile, Rhodana Fields has transitioned off the construction team after seven years to assume the role of neighborhood revitalization manager. In order to support area renewal, Habitat Choptank generally works in neighborhoods that have higher incidences of abandoned and blighted properties, as well as homes with significant deferred maintenance, and health and safety concerns.  Working within these target area, Habitat Choptank, like other Habitat affiliates around the United States, has come to realize that ‘we cannot build our way out of the housing problem.’ In response, programming has been expanded over the last three years to include weatherization and housing repairs in partnership with existing low-income homeowners in and around the neighborhoods where Habitat build new homes.

“This talented group is committed to our mission and brings over 100 years of collective experience in construction and project management,” notes Habitat Choptank executive director Nancy Andrew. That kind of knowledge and skill translates into quality workmanship by the staff working in partnership with Habitat’s dedicated construction volunteers. “A key part of making home ownership affordable is making sure the work is durable, that it lasts. Good quality work translates into lower operating costs for the hardworking low-income home buyers and home owners that we partner with.”

Since 1992, Habitat Choptank has partnered with 214 local households to improve a place they call home. Of those, 139 have been served through weatherization and repair services since Habitat Choptank initiated its neighborhood revitalization program in 2015. Seventy-five individuals and families have purchased new or rehabbed homes from the nonprofit.

Currently, 12 local home buyers are working through the home ownership program. Seven homes are under construction at this time with plans to start at least six more over the coming year. Income qualifying home buyers are offered access to affordable mortgage financing in order to purchase a new construction or rehabbed home from the nonprofit’s project inventory of durable and energy efficient homes. While selling its homes to mostly first time and even first generation home buyers, it continues to maintain a less than 2% foreclosure rate with only one foreclosure over its 25-year history.

Habitat accepts applications for its housing programs throughout the year. To donate, volunteer or apply, visit habitatchoptank.org or call 410-476-3204.

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