2019 Annual Report Building strength, stability, and self-reliance through shelter.

The Santiago Family

Well before Thanksgiving, Mariluz Santiago and her daughters Ivanielis, 12 and Ivanna, 9 put up a Christmas tree in their new Habitat home. “In the apartment where we lived, we didn’t have any room for a tree,” Mariluz said.

The Santiagos started moving in on June 24, right after Mariluz closed on the home. They did not have much furniture, but “we threw our blankets on the floor and we were so happy to be there!” Her Habitat mortgage is about the same as she paid to live in a tiny apartment in a crime-ridden complex.

Mariluz came to Winston-Salem from Puerto Rico 13 years ago, to be close to her sister. Working full time and raising two daughters alone was not easy, but she was determined to buy a house, so she fit Habitat classes and service hours into her already busy schedule.

“I told the girls, ‘You’ve got to hang in there with me. We are a team,’” she recalls. “They have seen me struggle, but now they see it was worth the sacrifice. My oldest daughter said, ‘Mommy, I love our home. I thank God for it.’”

Aging in Place

Habitat for Humanity of Forsyth County is playing an important part in helping seniors remain safely and comfortably in their homes. Thanks to an Aging in Place grant partnership with Winston-Salem State University, Habitat is able to provide much needed critical repairs and modifications for seniors who otherwise could not afford them, including repairing and replacing unsafe flooring and porches, leaky roofing, and malfunctioning HVAC systems. Habitat staff and volunteers have also lowered kitchen sinks and closet rods, widened doorways, and made other modifications to accommodate residents who are in wheelchairs or have mobility issues.

In FY 2019, Habitat received $14,348 from Aging in Place and finished projects for five seniors. The program is part of a larger collaboration, the United Way-funded Place Matters initiative focusing on 13 neighborhoods surrounding Smith Reynolds Airport. As the housing partner in the Place Matters initiative, Habitat has constructed eight new houses and made over 30 repairs within these neighborhoods.


While the majority of items donated to the ReStore are sold - and profits used to support our work - a few are shared with other local non-profits. One example is Habitat's mutually beneficial partnership with greeNest, an organization helping formerly homeless clients transition to independent living.

After a period of homelessness, families who are finally able to move into a rental property often have no furnishings, dishes, linens, or even mattresses to sleep on. For a small fee, they can shop at greeNest for these items.

During FY 2019, greeNest found itself in need of mattresses. The Habitat ReStore sole, for a nominal amount, more than 50 donate mattresses to greeNest for these families. The partnership also enables Habitat and greeNest to trade with each other if one has a surplus and the other has a shortage of certain items.


A critical part of becoming and remaining a successful homeowner is financial stability. For that reason, Habitat requires all families accepted into the homeownership program to complete classes on a wide range of topics such as how to budget, use credit wisely, and manage debt before they can purchase their homes.

Over the years, some of the classes have been provided by Financial Pathways of the Piedmont (FPP), where caring counselors with the latest training and certifications help clients achieve a wide range of financial goals. The partnership was recently expanded to allow Habitat homeowners to continue to go to FPP, as needed for one-on-one budget counseling and credit work even after they have moved into their new homes. Representatives of FPP have also served on Habitat for Humanity of Forsyth County's family selection and support committee.


In FY 2019, Kerlee Jorgenson, Ethan Forney and Matt Ragsdale became the first AmeriCorps members to live in a Habitat home designated specifically for them. Through funding from the Cannon Foundation and general support, we acquired and remodeled a house in need of extensive repairs adjacent to our campus.

Habitat Forsyth recruits three or four young adults each year through the AmeriCorps program, tasking them to build and guide volunteers, including about 400 college and high school students who build with us each year through the Collegiate Challenge program. Because members receive only a modest living allowance, the AmeriCorps House allows us to provide an affordable option for lodging during their 10 months of service.

In June of 2019, Habitat for Humanity International launched Cost of Home, a nationwide campaign bringing awareness to affordable housing issues that affect communities across the country.

In Forsyth County, 1 in 4 families are spending over half of their income on housing related expenses. For these families, that means choosing between health care, reliable transportation, nutritious food, and safe housing.

Help make the cost of home something we can all afford!

Speak with your elected County and City officials about:

  • removing development fees for affordable housing
  • taking a more active role in creating new affordable housing
  • creating a local housing trust fund to support new affordable housing
Thank you to our supporters for helping Habitat for Humanity of Forsyth County achieve a significant milestone in 2019...surpassing the 500th family served through our homeownership and repair programs.

View our FY 2019 donors here.

View our Board of Directors here.