Formed initially in the late 1980s as a conversation between 1st Baptist Church of CMCH, Messiah Lutheran Church (formerly of SIC, now in Ocean View) and Habitat of Cumberland, our history is rooted with God at the center. The churches made the decision to proceed with organizing in Cape May County and began our story. Those initial members moved swiftly and formed the first governing board; President Jim Sorenson, Vice President Frank Reeder, Secretary Joann Ireland, and Treasurer Joan Sorenson. As membership began to grow, the forming of the business operations took shape. Part of the team recruited new members, others began fundraising and organizational tasks.
By 1991, we became an affiliate and initiated the build of our first house. It was clear Habitat Cape May had answered a call to provide much needed safety and security, through affordable housing, to the community. Today Habitat Cape May is continually blessed to have a foundation of selfless individuals giving of their heart and energy to aid others.
The affiliate has built 17 houses and two renovations in total. In 2011, we were building one modular house every two years, had no construction equipment, and a volunteer base that numbered less than 20. Today, we are on track to construct two houses per year here in Cape May County, have a fully equipped 16-ft tool trailer, and countless construction volunteers who helped to build homes. We are extremely fortunate to receive gifts of land from local municipalities to support our mission efforts and their need for affordable housing. Over 50 local businesses support our construction efforts by contributing donated or discounted construction materials, supplies and professional services – from shingles, flooring and siding, to rough electrical and plumbing installation. Out of pocket expenses for Habitat Cape May for each house built averaged $125K, including the cost of site employees who supervise the volunteers. We have support from the local faith community, as seven local churches provided funding and volunteers for our 2013 and 2014 “Thrivent Builds” projects, and another 30 participated in our three “Blessing Projects”, where congregation members sponsor wooden studs, and inscribe personal blessings for the family which will become a permanent part of the house. This is also a community project through Burke Motor Group and the Subaru Share the Love event. In 2013/14 and on-going. Habitat Cape May has received significant endorsements of our work in the form of house sponsorships, ranging from $40K – $75K each. We just recently held a fundraising campaign through the local county craft breweries who raised $25,000 toward house build #19 which is slated for foundation installation in late February 2021.
These sponsors include:
• New Jersey Association of Realtors Housing Opportunity Foundation.
• Thrivent Financial (two houses).
• The Mustard Seed of Cape May County (three houses).
Other significant sources of financial support include:
• The Federal Home Loan Bank of New York, whose Affordable Housing Program provided grant funding for four houses.
• The NJ Department of Community Affairs Neighborhood Enhancement program, which has supplied grant funding for three houses.
• Middle Township’s COAH (Coalition for Affordable Housing) Trust fund, providing funding for 11 houses built in Middle Township.
• Crest Savings Bank ($10K mortgage investment each year for three years).
• Habitat Cape May’s Annual Golf Tournament, which generates between $25K and $30K in unrestricted funds per year through sponsorships and prize contributions from local businesses.
• The House that Beer Built Cape May County Breweries Collaboration generated nearly $25,000 through the sale of a collaboration beer and raffle. Staff and friends of the breweries will be on hand to help build house #19 for a local family.