Dear Friends of Habitat for Humanity,
No one should have to decide each month whether to pay an electric bill, or hold off buying enough food for their needs in order to pay their rent or mortgage. Affordable housing means that a family can live in a decent and safe environment and maintain a healthy and productive lifestyle. Habitat for Humanity of Berks County is leading the fight against conditions that deny families a chance to achieve the American dream of home ownership.
Know this, 20% of all Americans are forced to choose between safe housing, a quality education, adequate nutrition, access to good schools and transportation costs each month! These economic conditions and the choices they create each month is reducing the quality of life for children and limiting their chances to improve their futures. 

This must stop! Habitat for Humanity of Berks County is your local resource to stem the tide of decline and increase a family’s ability to chart their own futures. Remember, we are helping your fellow members of the community because all our works stays within the Berks County area.

Please consider joining the movement to make affordable housing a reality, sustain Berks County’s reputation as a great place to live, work, and raise a family.
Until next time,
Tim Daley
When property is available, renovation and rehabilitation provides an opportunity to dramatically transform a block or neighborhood while also providing a high-quality home to a family in need of affordable housing. We cluster our new builds within focus neighborhoods to maximize impacts and, in recent years, have built primarily attached row homes that fit within the architectural history of their surroundings. Our first cluster build project at Fourth and Elm Street was a huge success and we were able to provide newly renovated homes to three hardworking families.

         Our current cluster build on Tulpehocken Street follows the same concept of newly renovated homes that protect the architectural integrity of its surrounding. These three houses are set to be completed by the end of the summer. Two families are currently participating in our program are working towards owning these homes by completing 300 hours of sweat equity with 75 hours of economic literacy education.
Construction is supported exclusively by gift-in-kind contributions, volunteer labor, and generous donor support from foundations, corporate sponsors, individuals, and faith-based organizations.
This support enables Habitat for Humanity of Berks County to build and renovate properties within our region and creates affordable home ownership opportunities for low to moderate-income families.

Penske, a long time partner of Habitat is a major corporate donor of one of the three houses on Tulpehocken Street. Since January 2018, they have contributed financially and provided us with over 140 hours of volunteer labor to make sure that the house will be complete by the end of the summer.

Robert Glenn, Director Remarketing Sales at Penske Truck Leasing shared, “This has been an enjoyable partnership over the last year since November 2017. When this opportunity surfaced, we looked at it as having two benefits. As a major corporation in this area, to be able to able to give back to the local community and being involved in helping Habitat make a difference in the city of Reading really excited us. Our staff members have the ability to get together on the weekend outside of work in a casual fashion and on Monday, we discuss and share photographs of our experience. During each volunteer day, we appoint one person to take the lead, this has been a tremendous team building exercise. We look forward to partnering with Habitat in future projects as well.”
Check your preconceptions at the door when you enter one of the state’s newest programs to help inmates transition from prison to society. The construction sites that belong to Habitat for Humanity of Berks County looks like a typical home in the city of Reading, not like a rehabilitation and training center for those who are in the Berks Connections Pretrial Services program. Three times a week, it is staffed not by contractors and professional repair people but by former inmates, whose tattoos and piercings speak of lives on the streets, not in classrooms.
Berks Connections Pretrial Services (BCPS) is one of 14 recipients nationwide and the only organization in Pennsylvania to be recently awarded a U.S. Department of Labor Reentry Projects grant. The grant totaling $1,237,737 will be used to fund a comprehensive training program in the construction trades for returning citizens involved in their workforce development programs. This new training program, Rebuilding Reentrants and Reading (R3) started on October 2, 2017.

R3, funded by the U.S. Department of Labor Reentry Projects grant, will include hands-on learning, which will occur on site at Habitat for Humanity of Berks County (HFHBC) and classroom instruction at the Habitat Woodshop, and an employment focused cognitive curriculum delivered by BCPS staff members. R3 Site Supervisors, Mark Knapp and Jeff Brown, are responsible for transporting program participants to varied educational and work locations, overseeing the work performed and communicating participants’ progress to case managers. 

With neighborhood revitalization as the mission, we at Habitat for Humanity of Berks County are happy to provide our construction sites as classrooms for the individuals in this program. The training program will serve over 150 individuals over the course of 24 months. Case management and comprehensive job search and placement assistance will further support the project outcomes of increasing employability, improving employment rates, and reducing recidivism. 

Programs such as this are where the rubber meets the road in the state’s recent push to invest not only in the success of participants, but also in our community. It will allow returning citizens to give back to the community while obtaining marketable skills. Habitat for Humanity of Berks County is the only affiliate in the country that is involved in this Rebuilding Re-entrants and Reading (R3) program.
The Buttonwood Gateway Project site presents a unique opportunity for re-investment into an urban area that has – for too long – been in decline and disrepair. Habitat is positioned to be part of a unified effort that encompasses private development, city government and Habitat’s unique program for home ownership.

Habitat will be constructing new housing as well as rehabilitating existing dwellings for Habitat Home Buyers. The influence of a Habitat neighborhood project has proven to improve quality of life for families through better healthcare, education and employment conditions. Our families become stronger, more stable and self-reliant with a promising future.

The Buttonwood Gateway Project is located at one of three main access points into the City of Reading. Here, there is high traffic volume and visibility. This site and our project will affirm that areas once thought to be too rundown can rise up and once again be healthy, productive neighborhoods.

Home ownership is an essential element to creating clean and safer neighborhoods in which people can live and thrive. Habitat’s requirements of 300 hours of “sweat equity” and financial education make us a one-of-a-kind housing agency for families seeking to become Habitat Home buyers.
Habitat for Humanity of Berks County utilizes resources and hard work to provide safe and affordable housing to low-income families. Research has proven that children need a safe home in order to perform better at school. A safe, decent, affordable place to live can make a real difference in the life of a family. According to research, children of homeowners are more likely to finish high school (and twice as likely to graduate from college), and they are 59 percent more likely to become homeowners themselves, starting an upward spiral. By properly educating the youth of the world, they are enabled with the ability to impact society at a higher level. The need for housing in Berks County is at an all-time high, with close to 50,000 households facing problems such as overcrowded homes, inadequate physical necessities (such as running water), and dedicating a large portion of their income on mortgages and associated costs. These factors cause house payments to deplete most of the household income.

Habitat for Humanity homes are sold with no profit received and are built through volunteer labor and donated resources and money. Homeowners must provide a down payment and make payments on their home; it is not a charity program. Along with the prospective homeowner’s hard work (also known as “sweat equity”), he or she is required to pay back the loan with a 3.5% interest, therefore, providing a sense of accomplishment. In a Habitat house, families find better health, more financial freedom, independence, and a stability and security that far too many families simply cannot achieve without a helping hand.

Key Benefits:   
  • Habitat for Humanity creates community building by bringing neighborhoods
together to decrease substandard housing.
  • Habitat for Humanity wants all individuals to have a chance at affordable housing.
  • The importance of home ownership is the main value that Habitat strives to instill into the community.
  • By having families own their own homes, they are granted a sense of self-sufficiency.
  • Families build their homes using sweat equity by encouraging them to put time, sweat, and effort into building their new home.
  • Homeowners and community members have the opportunity to instill volunteerism in their communities by building with Habitat for Humanity.
The Third Annual Birdhouse Challenge was hosted at the Doubletree on March 20, 2018 from 5:30-8:30PM. There were over 180 people in attendance and we were able to raise over $28,000. All proceeds will benefit the largest project our affiliate has taken on-The Buttonwood-Gateway Project. To all those who attended and/or supported the event, we extend our greatest appreciation.
This year, in addition to the live and silent auction, the birdhouses were entered into a competition. The winner of the first ever BirdHouse Challenge Competition was Amy Kovach, 14 of Wilson Southern Middle School. Ms. Kovach, who entered a birdhouse for auction last year shared, “I am excited to have another opportunity to create a birdhouse for a good cause. As a family who loves all things Disney I wanted to share that love with my entry.”

This year’s sponsors include Grande Construction, Approved Mortgage Group, West Lawn Quoiting Association, Home Point Financial, Tompkins Insurance, Boscov’s, Riverview Bank, Customer’s Bank, Metropolitan Management Group, East Penn Manufacturing, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Riverfront Federal Credit Union, Berks, Anderson Insurance Brokers, Digital, Reick’s Printing, Reading Royals, Reading Fightin Phils, Reading Area Community College, GMI First Inc., Empire Surplus Home Center, Spayd’s Nursery, Custom Milling and Consulting, Green Hills Lumber and Home Center, Weidner Sweigert Electric & more, Palace Foods, UGI, C2 Consulting and Tom and Jeannie Ebersole.

A special thank you to all the BirdHouse builders, Alex Kline, Amy and Rachel Kovach, Bonnie Coller, B & G Glass, Bemenn Wood Products Inc, Bogia Engineering, Breast Cancer Support Services of Berks, Brian Schooling and CH Briggs, George Kunder, Glenn Bealer, Grande Construction, Habitat Woodshop Volunteers, Jim Gill and Carolyn Wilt at Thrivent Financial, John Zinger and R Scott Schoner, Kevin Frymyer and Bernie Stemplinger, Leesport Area Historical Society, Manor at Market Square, Mark Proudfoot, Mays Connard and Rotenberg LLP, Paul Bjorke, Pete Camarano and Susan Biebuyck, Reading-Muhlenberg Career and Technology Center, Spring Valley Millwork, The Heritage of Green Hills, Turnberry Construction Group and Youth Volunteer Corps.

We would also like to recognize the Board of Director’s, Habitat’s Marketing Committee, Cecilia Sekelic, Dick Henry, Dr. John Pankratz, Harry Fry, Jack Holcomb, iHeart Media Markets Group, James and Andrea Williams, Leslie Deatrich, Jenna O’Nell, The Bernie Simms Trio, Joanne Zinger and the United Artists Salon, Penny Hummel, Katie Keough, Ashley Faulkner, Courtney High and Volunteers from the Habitat Chapter at Berks Catholic High School for lending a hand to make this event a success.
From All of Us...A Heartfelt Thank you!
Habitat for Humanity of Berks County would like to thank you for all of your hard work! Without our volunteers and donors, Habitat would not be able to build homes for families in our program. Without you, there would be no program!