As you stroll around the 76 houses located in the “Rick Case Habitat Community” in Pompano Beach with Rita Case, you can sense her deep passion for the project and her urgency to assist more working families in achieving the dream of home ownership.

I have interviewed many civic leaders over the years, but Rita is in a special league of dedicated volunteer leaders: she does it all. She funds projects and uses her relationships with other leaders to get more funding, but she also learns about the people who will be directly served. Case also swings a hammer beside those she assists to own their homes. She has a solid understanding of their problems and works hard to solve them.

As the current leader of the Rick Case Automotive Group, she understands the challenges of running a large, successful organization. Her work with countless charities during her decades of community service is well-documented, and her many awards attest to how much she is appreciated.

I had reached out to Nancy Robin, the current CEO of Habitat For Humanity of Broward, to learn more about housing for families—what many believe is the single biggest concern for families in the region.

I learned that getting accepted as a Habitat family is much more difficult than getting accepted into an elite university. Of the 35,000 families interested in applying last October for the recent round of house allocations, only 50 were awarded the opportunity to help build and then pay a mortgage on a house.

“We have the 76 homes and two parks here, but this project put us in a position to build more, and we have over 100 homes under construction now,” according to Robin.

“Thinking back to building three or four homes at a time like we did for 40 years . . . we have built over 600 in the county. But this project was so much bigger than we had ever even imagined in the past” proudly proclaimed Case.

She also knows her statistics about the project’s impact on the Pompano Beach area around this new community. “The homeowners adjacent to this community — unemployment is now 7% less than the rest of Pompano, and their home values have appreciated more than the city of Pompano.” Researchers at Florida International University conducted a study recently that shows that families are thriving in the community and improving the area around it. This is critical for getting approval and funding for future projects of this scale.

“The kids in here are graduating at a better rate, they are staying in school more,” and many other positive benefits according to Case. “I love talking about this place. The value of these homes has increased tremendously. The first home was dedicated in 2019 and has increased 72% in value in five years.”

“We haven’t lost one homeowner from this community,” said Case. To be clear, this can surely be attributed to the rigorous application process and required training given to all Habitat family members about homeownership and other life skills. Getting a Habitat house is similar to winning the lottery, but with a lot of sweat equity and ongoing work to maintain the house and the community.

Many Habitat homeowners are hard-working individuals who hold reputable positions in the community, such as supervisors, managers, teachers, and first-responders. However, they are unable to qualify for bank financing and thus, seek assistance from Habitat. (Habitat will not accept applicants who do qualify for bank financing.)

As Case showed me some of the new homes, she mentioned that, “These two-story homes are new to Habitat. We had a donor that wanted to provide a garage for the family. This model was so popular that donor increased their support to provide these bigger homes.”

During our walk, one of the newest residents said, “It is a safe haven for the kids; they love it here. Especially during the holidays when they are all running around the community.” The community is currently comprised of about 200 children and another 100 adults .

“To me, home ownership is one of the most important American dreams… it brings stability to your family, it builds confidence and self-esteem,” said Case.

It’s clear to Case that this type of project — 76 homes built on one parcel is a solid way to build more homes at a pace much greater than in the past. “The trick is to get more people like me involved in getting bigger pieces of land. I’m working with the Ansin family again on a property in north Miami-Dade. Once you have the land and infrastructure, it is not that different for us to get individual home sponsors,” explained Case.

One way they get sponsors for individual homes is through corporate sponsorships. On April 20 of this year, another “CEO Build” will occur, with area business leaders volunteering to swing hammers on the next house to be completed. Clearly, this type of introduction to Habitat is engaging leaders to sponsor new home builds.


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