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Habitat Still Building Houses, Pandemic Notwithstanding

by John Nolan

A Habitat house from summer 2020

Covid-19 has made it a tough (if not dismal) year for many families, and has hit nonprofit organizations hard in their efforts to raise operating funds. Still, Habitat for Humanity is building houses for families and is making plans for more in 2021, even though the number of houses to be built is more modest than had been hoped.

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Cincinnati completed 12 houses in 2020, including four along Jackson Street in the village of Lincoln Heights, where Habitat erected an entire block of homes during the past two years. Habitat volunteers participated in 13 community clean-ups during the fall in socially distanced "Rock the Block" projects.

In addition, Habitat reports that it raised $2,000 for personal protective equipment for volunteers, donated N95 masks and hand sanitizer to health care workers, and did emergency repairs on homes owned by financially strapped military veterans.

On Dec. 19, Habitat dedicated our newly completed two-story house at Ryland Avenue, Cincinnati, which is being bought by Stuart and Sommer Burns, parents of young twins. Volunteers from our Habitat affiliate the Eastside Coalition of Churches worked on that house, along with volunteers from Habitat's Sycamore Coalition, Woodward Technical High School, and Allied Construction Industries.

Montgomery-based Ohio National Financial Services provided funding for the Ryland Avenue house, as part of the company's multi-year commitment to pay for building Habitat homes.

As a reminder, Habitat families buy the houses. The families are required to work volunteer hours for Habitat to work off their down payments, in exchange for receiving no-interest mortgage loans to buy the homes. Their mortgage payments help Habitat to build more homes.

In early 2021, Habitat's regional plans include starting two houses in the Cincinnati suburb of West College Hill (Springfield Township) and completing other homes in southwest Ohio and northern Kentucky.

And in March, Habitat expects to start rehabilitating a townhouse it bought near Findlay Street Neighborhood House, the Cincinnati ministry that St. Barnabas has long supported. The townhouse dates to the late 1800s and will become a family's permanent home. Habitat calls this rehab project the "Episcopal build," because Christ Church Cathedral and our retired pastor, The Rev. Nancy Turner Jones, contributed money to make it possible.

A small group of retired volunteers from the Eastside Coalition will work on one of the West College Hill houses beginning in January.

Unfortunately, because of public health restrictions, St. Barnabas still cannot recruit volunteers from our congregation to help build Habitat houses. We hope that may change sometime in the summer of 2021, if enough people receive vaccinations and Ohio loosens its Covid-19 restrictions on worksites.

In the meantime, please consider supporting Habitat in other ways. If you have furniture, lighting, or plumbing fixtures that are in good shape and suitable for re-use, you can donate those to Habitat's ReStores for resales that support Habitat homebuilding. You can also donate money directly to homebuilding operations of Habitat, a nondenominational Christian ministry.

For more information, go online to, or contact John Nolan at (513) 263-0399 or

St. Barnabas provides outreach funding to support Habitat. Thanks, as always, for your support.

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