I recently attended the Bend Area Habitat for Humanity‘s Build-It! Breakfast at the Riverhouse. The annual fund-raiser is designed to provide those curious about Habitat an opportunity to learn more about how the Bend-based branch of the national non-profit organization helps our local community, and then, if they’re so moved, to provide some financial support. As a weekly volunteer at the Bend ReStore, I attend to lend moral support and perhaps share my story with others at the table who have questions about the work that Habitat does.

2017 Bend Habitat Build-It Breakfast

Sophie Paez, Bend Area ReStore Director of Retail Operations, and Bend Habitat founder Les Alford mingle with Breakfast guests.

This year’s event was, I have to say, the best fund-raiser I’ve attended in I-don’t-know-how-long. Three components, in particular, were noteworthy: presentations by Bend Area Habitat Executive Director Scott Rohrer, Bend Painting owner Tj Iams and new Habitat Home recipient Jason Graham (aka, artist/performer MOsley WOtta).

What stood out? For Iams and Graham, it was the deeply personal ways in which homeownership and Habitat have impacted their lives. As someone who experienced little home stability in his youth, Iams spoke passionately about how his transitory childhood affected him and led to an ongoing commitment to helping others experience home-ownership by offering his company’s painting services to Habitat build projects.

Graham’s presentation came in the form of a poem about the meaning of “home” and “community.” It was a lyrical song, really — beautifully composed, heart-wrenching and poignant, complete with a call-and-answer refrain. I wish I had captured it on film because it was about as powerful and moving as spoken words can be. By the end of the piece, you could have heard a pin drop so still was the filled-to-the-gills conference space. Mine weren’t the only tears shed in the room, not by a long shot.

Bend Area Habitat for Humanity Scott Rohrer-2017 Build-It Breakfast

Bend Area Habitat Executive Director Scott Rohrer spoke about the value of homeownership.

Finally, it was Scott Rohrer’s turn to speak. And, this time, I did think clearly enough to grab my voice recorder, because what he had to say was especially relevant to me as a Realtor. I’ll let him take if from here:

“Here are a few statistics for homeowners vs. renters:

Children who live in a home that is owned…
* Are 116 percent more likely to graduate from college.
* Are 20 percent less likely to become teen-age mothers.
* Get 10 percent higher math scores (just by living in a stable home environment).
* Get 7 percent higher reading scores.

Families who own their own homes…
* Are 28 percent more likely to improve their homes.
* Live 4 times longer in a community.
* Are 15 percent more likely to vote.

“They’re more likely to know who represents them in Congress, they pay more taxes, they’re healthier, they save more for retirement, they have better mental health, they’re happier, and on and on and on.

“People who live in homes they own are better off in every category than people who rent. It’s just the way it works. It’s amazing. Homeownership is truly a panacea; it’s phenomenal.

“One more statistic that, honestly I think is my favorite,” he added, with a twinkle in his eye. “Children who live in homes that their families own are 10 times more likely to get a puppy for Christmas. I think that’s cool.

“So let me bring it all together,” he said in conclusion; “and this is really my message to you this morning: If you want to help preserve our wonderful community, please help us build more houses because we cannot do it alone. If you want to support education, help us build houses. If you want to help us fight poverty, help us build houses. If you want to help us reduce healthcare costs, help us build houses. If you want to help puppies get to good homes,” he paused, smiling, “help us build houses.”

“We are fighting -– and I do mean fighting –- to preserve the quality and balance of our community, and we’re fighting to change lives. We need, and appreciate, your partnership. And we could not do it alone.”

Now that’s something to think about.

About the Author
Lisa Broadwater, GRI, CDPE, is a Central Oregon-based real estate professional who specializes in listing and selling homes, especially in Sisters, Tumalo, Bend and Redmond.