Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona has announced an approximate five year commitment to building new, affordable single-family homes and working with current homeowners to make major improvements to hundreds more existing residences throughout the neighborhoods that comprise the Central City South area just south of downtown Phoenix including: Grant Park, Central Park, Matthew Henson and the 7-11 Neighborhood.  These efforts are scheduled to begin March 24th.

Partnering with City of Phoenix

The initiative, which has been in the planning phase since the spring of 2017, took a major leap forward in December of last year when the City of Phoenix awarded the local Habitat for Humanity affiliate 30 vacant lots in the Matthew Henson and 7-11 neighborhoods, on which it has agreed to build 31 new affordable homes and work with other homeowners in the area to do renovations to 80 more existing homes that surround them by the end of 2022.

Warehouse District Business Owners Commit to Funding

In addition to the agreement Habitat has entered into with the City, it has also forged partnerships with two neighborhood area business leaders who have committed private funding through charitable gifts to Habitat to help with renovation costs for existing homes in the Grant and Central Park neighborhoods where the median income for many residents is prohibitive in terms of being able to afford the cost of a new roof, or the replacement of old and energy inefficient windows. “As a local family business, with property in the neighborhood, our family wanted to help provide seed funding to Habitat so it could bring its expertise in Neighborhood Revitalization and Human Services to the assistance of our neighboring residents who work hard but are simply not earning the incomes required to keep their homes in top condition “said Mike Cowley, President of The Cowley Companies, a Phoenix-based Real Estate Developer. “We don’t want the development of downtown Phoenix to displace second and third generation families the way it has occurred in other cities,” said Cowley, in reference to places like Seattle and Portland where gentrification has ruled the day. “Rather, we want to do what we can to help all of our neighbors stay in their homes and get a hand up in improving them.” Not only did Cowley and his families’ foundation commit the first privately donated funding to the Habitat initiative, but he felt compelled to encourage others to join in the effort. “The Warehouse District is near and dear to our hearts at WebPT — it’s where we’ve grown up and expanded our roots,” said Dr. Heidi Jannenga, PT, DPT, ATC/L, co-founder and President of WebPT, the leading rehab therapy software platform. “After learning about this project from Mike and how it would directly impact the families in our neighborhood, the entire WebPT team was instantly on board to support. Giving back is engrained in our culture — it’s one of our culture commitments — and we’re looking forward to being able to serve a neighborhood that has done so much for the economy and community. The Warehouse District represents a special time in Arizona’s economic history, and with its business resurgence, it’s important we come together to ensure we’re raising the tide for all in this community — especially the families.”

More Donors and Volunteers Needed

While Habitat and the neighborhoods have received amazing encouragement and support from the City of Phoenix and its first two funding sponsors, it is just embarking on the first steps of a five-year journey that will require millions of more dollars and thousands of volunteers. “If we are to achieve what we envision over the next five years, it will require some $7 million dollars in charitable contributions and several thousands of volunteers, both individual and corporate. It’s a big job, but we believe that it will gain a lot of momentum as other leading philanthropists and businesses become aware of the opportunity to be a part of what we believe will be life-changing for residents of the Central City South neighborhoods”, said Jason Barlow,President and Chief Executive Officer of Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona, with offices in Peoria and just south of downtown at the corner of Central and Watkins. “We invite everyone in the valley to be a part of something bigger than themselves that will leave a lasting impact on our community for many years to come” stated Barlow.

The first revitalization efforts are scheduled to begin on Saturday, March 24th around 7 am at Grant Park when volunteers from The Cowley Companies, WebPT and Stearns Bank will undertake various paint and landscape projects for homeowners in the area.

For more information on how to get involved, contact Roger Neuhaus at rneuhaus@habitatcaz.org or call (602) 451-5126