Habitat for Humanity of Greenville County, is a leading voice for the affordable housing initiatives in South Carolina. Habitat has taken two key steps in formalizing its political outreach and advocacy efforts: creating a new Board of Directors advocacy subcommittee and placing long-serving Habitat for Humanity senior staff member Gail Smith Peay in the new position of Vice President of Strategic Initiatives.
Peay will now be responsible for the organization’s political outreach and advocacy efforts designed to help promote the importance of and need for more affordable housing options in Greenville County and throughout the State of South Carolina. Habitat is identifying and working to improve policies and systems through coordinated efforts at the local, state and federal levels. Peay also helps to craft a legislative agenda on critical policy issues, such as funding allocations, property tax credits or waivers for low-income homeowners, inclusionary zoning, community development block grants, etc. She continues to represent Habitat Greenville at several major annual events, including Habitat for Humanity International’s annual legislative conference and the statewide legislative day in Columbia.
Habitat for Humanity coordinates with fellow local non-profit entities in the affordable housing space, including Homes of Hope, United Ministries, the Greenville Housing Trust, and Genesis Homes, among others, to develop a more unified voice and cohesive efforts to advance common interests.
“Greenville has done an excellent job of addressing the affordable housing conversation, but the efforts have been scattered and, in some cases, duplicative,” said Peay.
The new advocacy subcommittee consists of the current Board of Directors members who play a key role in interfacing with local and statewide political leaders and local organizations and businesses to encourage support for an affordable housing based agenda. It focuses on supporting legislative initiatives aimed at revising those laws that create barriers to the development of affordable housing. Advocacy Committee members include Dan Weidenbenner (Chair), Executive Director of Mill Community Ministries; Luis Caciedo, Branch Manager and Mortgage Officer at New American Funding; Whitney Hanna, Coordinator of Community Collaboration at Greenville County Schools; Laura Caligan-Gilliam, Chief Strategist at The Graham Foundation and LaVonne Thompson, retired assistant attorney general of the U.S. Government of the Virgin Islands.
“This is one of the most critical issues facing our community as we continue our rapid growth, and you can expect to hear a lot more from us on this topic in the near future”, said Monroe Free, Executive Director of Habitat Greenville.