Students, community members and artists gathered together Saturday night at TRU Deli & Wine Bar to create awareness for affordable housing and raise money to help build a house for a Chapel Hill resident.
Mixed Concrete benefited a resident of the community, Joyce Powell, whose home is currently being built by the UNC Habitat for Humanity chapter.
Powell said the house has come at an opportune time in her life. As a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, she decided to apply for a house two years ago.
“I got turned down the first time but I didn’t take that as a no, I took that as a not right now,” Powell said.
Powell, a domestic violence survivor, said she found Chapel Hill a safe community to raise her three children in.
She said although her son died in 2013, he has continued to serve as an inspiration for her and her efforts to better her community.
Matthew Coleman, president of the UNC Habitat for Humanity chapter, said homeowners pay for their homes and have a mortgage just like any other homeowner. Members of UNC Habitat for Humanity come out to help build the homes and support people in the community who need the affordable housing.
“Habitat has an incredibly low foreclosure rate, it’s less than one percent,” Coleman said.
UNC Habitat is building Powell's home in Northside neighborhood, a historically black community in Chapel Hill. The neighborhood has increasingly been taken over by developers hoping to rent homes to students for a higher rate than it would be for a family to buy, according to the Town of Chapel Hill's website.
Powell said many members of the community who work in Chapel Hill are not able to afford housing here.
Annie Gray Dixon, a UNC senior and the organizer of the Mixed Concrete benefit, said her team of six had been working on planning the event since September.
An artist herself, Dixon created four pieces for the event.
“Doing my art has always been something I’ve used to give back to the community, and this has been the best way to do it,” she said.
Carl Shy, a retired UNC professor and former Habitat for Humanity volunteer, said he was very impressed with the turnout for the event.
Shy volunteered with Habitat for Humanity for 12 years, up until he was 83. He was part of a team of electricians that put electrical systems in 50 houses.
“Everybody should really feel good about working with Habitat or supporting Habitat," Shy said. "It really makes a difference in the lives of the people involved.”
Ellese Johansen, a UNC student who attended the event, said she happened to come across the event when she and a few friends came to TRU to eat dinner and hang out. After seeing all of the pieces and finding out about the cause, she decided to put in a bid for one of the pieces of art.
Powell said she was so grateful for everyone who came out to the event to support her and her family.
“I like to tell people for me, it’s my creator who has kept me strong doing everything that I do, and I try to encourage people everywhere that I go," Powell said. "I’m grateful for Habitat for giving me a part of my dream that I wrote down in my goals a long time ago.”
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