Representative: Beth Morrison
Rebuilding Together of Greater Charlotte works to preserve affordable homeownership by partnering with communities in need, mobilizing community volunteers and skilled trade professionals to provide critical home repairs for low-income homeowners. These repairs restore the safety and health of homes for vulnerable residents, allowing them to stay in their homes and their community.
What is the focus of your organization?
Safe & Healthy Housing, Community Revitalization.
How did your organization start?
A group assembled to start a Charlotte affiliate of Rebuilding Together in 2010 with support from Lowe’s and Rebuilding Together’s national office.
What is the issue you’re addressing?
Substandard, hazardous housing, and gentrification that threatens affordable homeownership.
Where did your passion for this cause come from?
I spent 3 weeks in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and saw firsthand the devastation natural disasters can wreak, especially on poor communities. I also experienced the tangible impact a group of people can have on a community, rebuilding homes and restoring hope. After moving to Charlotte and starting at Wells Fargo in 2011, I looked for ways to volunteer and use the time off Wells Fargo grants for employees to do good in the community. After my experience rebuilding in New Orleans, I was eager to find another opportunity to be a part of that transformation in a family’s life. Rebuilding Together of Greater Charlotte had volunteer shifts open for a home repair project and my spark was lit. After that first project, I explored ways to further support RTGC and coordinated several Team Member Volunteer Projects with grants funded by the Wells Fargo Housing Foundation. Projects like building a wheelchair ramp for a disabled veteran, restoring his independence and dignity, and pulling up old, dirty carpeting and restoring the hardwoods so a family could breathe easier fueled my growing passion for safe and healthy housing. In the fall of 2017 I was awarded a 10 week paid volunteer leave from Wells Fargo to lend capacity to RTGC. That experience strengthened my resolve to further RTGC’s impact, and I transitioned from board member to Executive Director last April.
Why is your work so important?
RTGC’s work is so important because the effects of substandard, unhealthy housing permeate so many aspects of a family’s well being, health status, economic and social mobility. Low-income homeowners are increasingly facing impossible decisions like replacing a leaking roof or broken furnace or paying for their basic needs like medications, food, and utilities. According to the CDC, one’s zip code is more predictive of overall health status than genetic code. Families with fewer financial resources are more likely to experience unsafe, unhealthy housing conditions and are least able to remedy them. In our city’s rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods, low-income homeowners unable to afford critical repairs may opt to sell their home to an investor rather than continue to live in a home that is making their family sick. As neighborhoods change more vulnerable residents, face greater threats of displacement and missed opportunities to benefit from positive neighborhood developments. With Charlotte’s current shortage of more than 30,000 affordable housing units, our community cannot afford to lose these existing affordable homes and have more of our neighbors facing housing instability.
What are you most excited for as it relates to the SEED20 process?
I’m excited about the expert advice and outside perspective from coaches and other participants and the opportunity to improve my storytelling through the pitch. I’m also looking forward to hearing all of the pitches from this year’s class and being inspired by the innovative leaders and organizations working to improve our city.
What have you already learned from this process?
I’ve learned that this community is full of people eager to hear about social impact and innovation, and that engaging storytelling is the key to earning their support.
What do you hope to get out of SEED20?
I hope to craft a pretty great pitch to use to continue building support for RTGC, and I hope to come out of SEED20 with some amazing partnerships to continue to innovate and solve our community’s most pressing issues.
SEED20 Onstage is on March 25, 2019. Tickets available soon.
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