In Cheyenne, Wyo., 12 banks are partnering with Habitat for Humanity of Laramie County to build a four-unit townhome. Through what the organization calls its most ambitious project yet, ‘“The House That Banks Built” hopes to build community strength, stability and self-reliance through shelter.
It started with four empty lots near Security 1st Bank, Cheyenne, when a customer, who’s also a realtor, connected the bank’s CEO, Ron Van Voast, with HFH.
Before long, Kate Wright, the project’s executive director, was presenting her “brain child” to a board room full of bankers “interested and excited to help,” she said. “They asked great questions that gave my staff and me the opportunity to improve our plans, and many of them gave us fantastic advice and feedback throughout the process.”
At the meeting, Marvin Hefti, chairman of Security 1st Bank, turned to his team and said, “this is something we need to do.” Leadership at the $72 million bank felt compelled to get involved by the momentum and importance of the cause, Van Voast said.
The initiative will allow homeowners more financial stability, which Wright said frees up disposable income that is typically spent in the community. “Affordable housing is a driver of economic growth,” Wright said.
The banks’ involvement will completely cover the expenses for one of the HFH homes, but the houses aren’t simply gifted to their recipients. “They make payments and, in a way, ‘work their way’ into the homes,” Van Voast said.The project highlights what can be accomplished when different sectors of our community work together, Wright said. “We are thrilled that our local banks recognize the value of this type of investment.”
The banks contribute funds, and employees work together during construction. The initiative is a way for a host of different banks to come together and get involved in the community, Van Voast said. “Big and small, we’re all involved.” The project has Keystone, Brick and Mortar, Legacy and Welcome-Home sponsors, reigning in 12 local banks.
“The House That Banks Built” is a way to showcase what banks can do in a community, Van Voast said. “It’s an opportunity to make a dream come true to someone who aspires to it.”In the world of finance, Wright said she’s pleased to report that one can find love. “It’s a form of love that makes our community what it is,” Wright said. “At Habitat for Humanity we’re thankful to turn that love into the opportunity to change lives.”