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Watauga County Habitat for Humanity and Lowe’s to Address COVID-19’s Disproportionate Impact on Women During International Women Build Week

Watauga County Habitat for Humanity and Lowe’s are partnering to raise awareness of the global need for safe and affordable housing for women during International Women Build Week (March 8-15). On International Women’s Day, Habitat and Lowe’s will kick off more than 300 Women Build projects supporting women-led households across the United States, Canada, and India to drive awareness and address the need. Watauga Habitat for Humanity is hosting a virtual event on Wednesday, March 8th called Women Build Trivia Night. Those interested in participating can visit appbuildsahome.appstate.edu to learn more and register for this free event.

Women have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, from job loss to evictions and foreclosures. According to The National Women’s Law Center, 80 percent of U.S. jobs lost during the COVID-19 pandemic were held by women. The United Nations (UN) has reported that 40 percent of all employed women globally work in the industries hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Working women and mothers often shoulder the role of primary caregivers for their family”, said Allison Jennings, Director of Development for Watauga Habitat. “COVID-19 has working moms now bearing the brunt of homeschooling and having to balance work and childcare. All parents are the unsung (s)heroes in this crisis, however the pandemic has uniquely affected women as they juggle work and childcare.”

Despite the unprecedented challenges women are facing, women remain on the frontlines of the pandemic as essential workers, as caretakers within their households, and too often have to make the difficult decision between maintaining a place to call home and paying for food, health care, childcare, education or reliable transportation. Harvard University’s State of the Nation’s Housing 2020 report revealed that 37.1 million U.S. households spent more than 30 percent of their incomes on housing in 2019, including 17.6 million spending more than 50 percent. The effects of the pandemic have further highlighted the need for safe and affordable housing, as 29 percent of renters and 36 percent of homeowners experienced employment income loss between March and September of 2020.

This month, Watauga Habitat for Humanity will begin building a home for Sheila Potter in the Meat Camp Community. Although she owns her own land, new home construction in Watauga County is often not affordable for a single woman with one income. Watauga Habitat will offer Sheila the opportunity to pay for her home with a zero-interest, affordable loan.   This home is being built in partnership with App Builds a Home.

Sheila’s story is not unique. Every day, millions of women face the challenge of a future without affordable, adequate and stable housing. This issue underscores the importance of Habitat and Lowe’s efforts to bring awareness to the issue, as well as a partnership focused on ensuring that more women have access to affordable housing.

Lowe’s and Habitat’s partnership began in 2003. To date, the program has brought together more than 143,000 women volunteers who have built or repaired nearly 6,000 houses. Lowe’s has committed more than $78 million to support the global housing nonprofit’s efforts, including the Women Build program, International Women Build Week, and Habitat’s Neighborhood Revitalization program. Lowe’s support of Habitat has helped more than 18,000 Habitat partner families improve their living conditions.

To learn more or join the conversation, visit habitat.org/womenbuild or follow #BuildHer and #WomenBuild on social media to share and view stories from around the world.

About Watauga Habitat for Humanity:

Part of a global, nonprofit housing organization, Watauga Habitat for Humanity works to eliminate barriers to a better, healthier, and more financially stable life by providing homebuyers with a decent and affordable place to call home. Homebuyers partner with Habitat, helping build their own homes alongside volunteers. Habitat offers zero interest mortgages to the homeowners. Since 1987, Watauga Habitat for Humanity has built 29 homes and supported families facing challenges. Now in these exceedingly difficult times, along with committed community partnerships, Watauga Habitat stands ready to offer a hand-up to families needing safe and affordable homes.  For more information visit their website at https://www.wataugahabitat.org/home.