My Catawba County

Building Houses and Opening Doors

Building Houses and Opening Doors

Habitat for Humanity of Catawba Valley builds and repairs houses for low-income families and individuals in Catawba County. If you dig a little deeper, what you’ll see are the positive impacts that home ownership can have on family development, revitalized neighborhoods, and educational attainment. To learn more about the work of this nonprofit in our community, we reached out to Executive Director Mitzi Gellman.

What is Habitat for Humanity of Catawba Valley?
Founded in 1985, Habitat for Humanity of Catawba Valley is a non-profit, Christian-based community organization dedicated to building, renovating, and repairing safe, decent, and affordable housing for hard-working, low-income families in our community. We build houses through partnerships with diverse segments of the community–churches and temples, businesses and individuals, service clubs and foundations.

What programs or services does the Habitat for Humanity of Catawba Valley offer?
Habitat for Humanity of Catawba Valley is primarily known for affordable new home construction for qualifying families. We also build homes that are sold on the open market and targeted to increase workforce housing.

In 2015, Habitat Catawba Valley expanded services to include home repairs for elderly, disabled and low-income homeowners throughout Catawba County. Types of repairs include repair or replacement of heating and cooling systems, roof repair or replacement, electrical and plumbing repairs. Affordable repair costs are based on a percentage of the homeowner’s income with no minimum income required.

How do people access these services?
Both the new home construction and home repair applications are available during scheduled times each year. Please contact the Habitat office at 828-328-4663 or visit our website.

Who is eligible for the services offered by Habitat for Humanity of Catawba Valley?
Typically, the new homeownership program is open to low income individuals and families. The home repairs program is limited to existing homeowners who are elderly, disabled or have a low income.

Both the new home program and home repairs program are open to residents of Catawba County.

How many families/individuals are impacted on average per year by the services provided by Habitat for Humanity of Catawba Valley?
Habitat Catawba Valley works with 10 – 15 qualified homebuyers each year and more than 35 home repair clients. We also serve as a referral source for other nonprofit agencies.

Is there anything that you would like to add?
Habitat builds more than houses. We open doors of access and opportunity so that families have a foundation upon which they can build a safer and more secure future. Through our work with neighborhood revitalization we are restoring community to areas lost to blight and crime. We do this because we believe that homeownership leads to positive growth across the entire quality of life spectrum.


  • Children of homeowners have higher educational attainment.
  • Young children of homeowners see higher achievement in math and reading and exhibit fewer behavioral problems.
  • Teenaged children of homeowners are more likely to stay in school.

Community life:

  • Homeowners spend more time and money in maintaining their homes, contributing to the value and image of a community.
  • Homeowners are shown to be more involved in their communities, with a higher likelihood of volunteering.
  • Homeowners are more likely to be politically active.

4 Major Trends Impacting the Future of Affordable Housing:

  • There are currently 0 counties in the US where someone making full-time minimum wage can afford the fair market value rent on 2-bedroom apartment. Currently, the minimum wage in NC is $7.25. However, workers need to earn at least $13.13 per hour in order to afford the average 2 bedroom rent of $683 in Catawba County.
  • The Hickory MSA saw a 447% increase in the 85+ population alone in the last 15 years. Women live longer than men but have lower residual incomes, making them twice as likely as men to live alone and struggle to afford their homes.
  • The Hickory MSA has the oldest housing stock in the state. We have the most number of homes built pre-1980 and the least built post-2000. This means that our housing isn’t growing in proportion to our population, and the housing that is available is in need of costly repair.
  • Catawba County currently has 3,500+ unfilled jobs. We know that recruiting and retaining talent is essential to our continued economic vibrancy, and available affordable housing is a vital part of that effort.