Critical Needs #ONEDAY receives support from Westmoreland support organizationsCourtney Guerrieri on the basic needs support that Central Westmoreland Habitat for Humanity will provide for #ONEDAY.
The Pittsburgh Foundation's #ONEDAY Critical Needs online giving event is raising money to support organizations that provide basic needs for our neighbors in need. Since 2013, Critical Needs Alerts have raised nearly $12 million. Though communities are slowly recovering from the economic impacts of COVID, the need for food, housing, health care, child care and employment are greater than ever. Central Westmoreland Habitat for Humanity is among the organizations that will benefit from this year’s #ONEDAY online giving event, which takes place from 8 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 1. All gifts over $25 will be increased with funds from the $550,000 incentive pool.
The Foundation spoke with Courtney Guerrieri, executive director for Central Westmoreland Habitat for Humanity about the organization’s work and how #ONEDAY will help.
Courtney, tell us about Central Westmoreland Habitat for Humanity and what you do?
“We’ve been in existence for 30 years. Our mission is to build homes for lower income families or those who cannot get a normal mortgage. And we operate a “restore,” which sells slightly used items to the public which serves as a fundraiser for the homes that we build.”
What services are you seeing as the most in-demand in your community?
“Definitely the need for affordable housing. That’s the biggest thing. Just the ability to afford homes and a mortgage. It's an uptick in those who have been applying for our program.
We ask ourselves. Do we have the ability to put this family in a home? Do we have a home to put people in? Right now, we don’t have homes available. We are working on a house right now. One family is getting ready to get into the house. We must work with the applicants. We may not have anything available now. We keep your application. And when they’re available, we may not have one ready for a week, a month. It is a waiting game unfortunately.
Currently I have about 15 applications, easy, waiting for a home.
Invent a question here about school districts or other surprising challenges: We really try to keep the families who apply are in children in specific school districts. We try to keep them in those. Even if you have a house that comes available, I can’t put a family of five in a two-bedroom house. But I may have a house that fits in a different school district, they may not want to move, but they have the option. That’s a big thing. We will wait until something becomes available. If they do want to look elsewhere, we look at background checks, credit history, what is needed to build a new house, income to debt ratio… what works for what they can afford.”
It’s important to stress that your organization does more than just build new homes. What other services do you provide for the community?
“We work with families to teach them about budgeting and finances. A lot of families are coming from rental situations, so we must help them get a new mindset, to understand that, when they move into a house, they have a mortgage, if the refrigerator stops working, they are the owner and have to remember to budget for repairs because there isn’t a landlord anymore. Homeowners need to save money for just-in-case situations. So, there is that education process that goes along the way.
What are some projects that are ongoing or are slated for this year?
“We are building a brand-new house in Greensburg on Harrison Avenue and three new homes in Grapeville this year. They just got it framed out; the family will likely be moving in at the end of year.”
How will #ONEDAY matter?
“It would be a huge help to us. The donations help us continue our mission. In the nonprofit arena, any donation is an important donation. To have the ability to buy a box of nails, a gallon of paint, a sheet of drywall: that may seem like nothing to the average person, but to us, those allow us to complete projects and purchase small items that are sometimes the last thing we need to complete a home. #ONEDAY enables us to provide for a lower income family who never thought they’d own their home. It’s a very, very big deal to give someone a place of their own. The community foundation provides an amazing opportunity for us, and we are very grateful for that.”