Making Cost of Home More Affordable for Virginians Is Cornerstone of Habitat’s Advocacy Efforts

Habitat for Humanity doesn’t just build and repair homes.

Its local affiliates, including Habitat for Humanity Peninsula and Greater Williamsburg, are tireless advocates for affordable housing through the Cost of Home campaign. The five-year initiative unites local Habitat organizations, partners, volunteers and community members on behalf of housing affordability, which goes hand in hand with Habitat’s mission of building homes, community and hope.

“Habitat’s goal is to push the envelope to make a difference in affordable housing,” said Mimi Mitchell, Director of Community/Volunteer Engagement at Habitat for Humanity Peninsula and Greater Williamsburg. “Our aim as a whole is to get 10 million people into affordable homes. Our role as an affiliate is to do all that we can at a local level.”

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recommends that households spend no more than 30% of their income on housing. But among Virginia’s poorer communities, families are often spending 60% — a price tag that forces cutbacks in other essential areas, including food, health care and transportation.

In Virginia, one in eight households spends more than half of its monthly budget on housing. Supply is dwindling, too.

“We have a shortage of affordable homes for extremely low-income renters,” Mitchell said, citing that number as 148,720. “That’s the number of homes that would have to be built to adequately house all the low income renters in Virginia.

“That’s why at our affiliate, we’ve been sending letters to our legislators asking that they put housing at the forefront of the budget,” Mitchel said. “We’ve also been doing more to engage our partner families to become advocates.”

While many families earn the sweat equity hours they need to qualify for Habitat’s Homebuyer Program by volunteering at builds or at the ReStores in Newport News and Williamsburg, some log hours by assisting with the advocacy campaign.

“It’s about doing things in our own backyard and coming together and seeing what legislation we can push to help Virginia as a whole,” Mitchell said.

Habitat’s advocacy “Cost of Home” efforts focus on the following four areas:

  • Increasing supply and preservation of affordable homes — examples include establishing housing trust funds as sources of funding to build homes and pushing legislation to make certain areas in the state more affordable to build houses
  • Equitably increasing access to credit — examples include down payment assistance, housing counseling and education programs
  • Optimizing land use for affordable home
  • Communities of opportunity — examples include renter protection and property tax relief

Mitchell will also be leading workshops on social justice and Black home ownership. “That’s something Habitat International is really pushing right now,” she said.

As part of the Habitat on the Hill lobbying efforts earlier this year February, Mitchell and others from Virginia affiliates met with staff from the offices of Representatives McEachin, Spanberger, Wittman, Wexton, Cline, and Good and the offices of Sen. Warner and Sen. Kaine.

“Everything goes back to our belief that everyone deserves a decent and affordable place to live,” Mitchell said. “Habitat’s not just about building homes. We’re about making homes affordable to everyone.”

Want to help?

Here’s what you can do to help make the Cost of Home something we all can afford:

  • Share on your social media pages that you support the Cost of Home!​ Use #CostOfHome and tag us @HabitatPGW.
  • Volunteer! We need volunteers to help organize letters and postcards to local legislators urging them to support policies that improve housing affordability.
  • Take the Cost of Home pledge.
  • Learn even more about Cost of Home and policies we support in Virginia here.

For more information or to support the Cost of Home advocacy campaign, please contact Mimi Mitchell at or 757-913-5652.


Want to invest in the community?


We help as many families as we can, but the lack of decent and affordable housing remains a critical problem in our area. By donating, you will provide upfront funding for building materials and services that makes interest-free loans to Habitat partner families possible. Habitat partner families help to build their own homes - alongside volunteers - and pay an affordable mortgage. Your monetary donations enable us to continue building strength, stability and independence for future local families.