Builders Communities

Celebrating 40 Years, Asheville Habitat for Humanity Builds More Than Houses

40th anniversary wall raising. Photos courtesy of Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity

By Emma Castleberry

Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity, the local Habitat for Humanity International affiliate serving Buncombe and Madison counties, celebrates four decades of community service this year. “For 40 years, we have been uniting people of various religions, ethnicities, socio-economic classes and political beliefs around the common goal of building a world where everyone has a decent place to live,” says communications director Ariane Kjellquist. “Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity provides the community with the opportunity to be part of the solution. Together, we have enabled thousands of individuals to build a brighter future on the foundation of stable housing.”

Multiple studies have linked stable, safe and affordable housing to improved health, better educational outcomes, financial stability and increased social engagement ( “Secure housing helps people realize their full potential; thrive instead of just survive,” says Kjellquist. Michelle Bevans, an Asheville Habitat homowner, says her “whole world changed” when she moved into her home. “It [homeownership] impacts everything—what you’re able to do with your own life and what your kids are able to do.” Another homeowner family, the Angels, said that they were barely surviving before they obtained housing through Habitat. “With the security of housing,” they say, “everything else kind of started falling in place.”

While the organization’s mission has remained the same over its 40-year history, the services and products provided by Asheville Habitat have changed in response to shifting housing needs. One such change was partnering with Madison County Habitat for Humanity in December of 2021 to create a stronger and more effective organization that serves both Buncombe and Madison counties.

The organization’s growth has also included the addition of a second Habitat ReStore in Weaverville—the flagship store is in Asheville— that also sells gently used merchandise to the public and increases revenue for the home building program. Some of the items in the ReStores come from Habitat’s Deconstruction Program, which extracts usable materials prior to renovations.

Habitat volunteers working onsite

Other responsive changes include the implementation of a Home Repair Program to help low-income homeowners make necessary repairs to their homes. More than 75 percent of the families served by Asheville Habitat are through this program.

More recently, Asheville Habitat started building single-level townhomes with Universal Design elements offering age-in-place opportunities for the 55+ demographic. “We have also amended our qualifications to remove some barriers and make our homeownership program more accessible, and we have expanded our Homebuyer Education Program to further prepare homebuyers for long-term success,” says Kjellquist.

Asheville Habitat faces the continual challenge of finding affordable land on which to build its neighborhoods. “There is little inventory, and we face a lot of competition from for-profit builders,” says Kjellquist. “We have also struggled to attract AmeriCorps members to serve due to the high cost of housing here. Members lead construction crews and enable us to build and repair more homes, but those opportunities have gone largely unfilled in recent years because people can’t find an affordable place to live.”

Asheville Habitat has achieved lofty goals in its 40 years, and this milestone allows an opportunity for reflection and gratitude. Kjellquist emphasizes that the organization’s work is largely possible because of widespread community support. “Every partner makes Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity what it is: a place where people can come together with the common goal of building the world we all want to live in—and make it happen.”

On Thursday, August 3, at 3 p.m., Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity will celebrate four new homeowners at a dedication event in the New Heights neighborhood in West Asheville. The public is welcome. RSVP to Eva at Volunteer opportunities are always available and require no experience. Individuals who don’t want to be on a build site can volunteer at the ReStores. To learn more, donate or volunteer, visit or call 828.251.5702.


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