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Habitat’s Women Build partner homeowner works for county helping children access

Rachel Tomlin, who works as a benefits specialist for Powhatan County’s Department of Social Services, attended Habitat-Powhatan’s Pathways to Homeownership workshop in April 2023. Thirteen months later, and two days before her birthday, Tomlin became Habitat’s newest homeowner partner for its first Women Build house, which also is its first whole-house renovation project.

Tomlin learned about her selection for an affordable mortgage and home through Habitat during a May 9 workday lunch break at The County Seat where she met with Habitat representatives.


“Owning my home will provide stability and give my family peace of mind knowing we have a place to call our own, a safety net that allows us more time to be involved in our community and to put down permanent roots in the county I’ve called home for over 30 years,” said Tomlin, who is currently living in a home 80 miles away that is being put up for sale by its owner.


Tomlin moved to Powhatan when she was 10 years old and lived here until she experienced a divorce in 2009. She said she’s been trying to “come back home” since then.


Tomlin, mother to Charleigh, 19, and Hunter, 20, has worked for Powhatan County’s Department of Social Services for seven and half years. Besides becoming Habitat’s newest partner, she said that her proudest moment was having her children see her walk the across the stage to receive her associate degree in human services in 2014. “Being able to show my children that success comes as long as you never quit” was paramount for Tomlin.

Tomlin’s daughter, Charleigh, who works at Faces of the Future Academy, will attend Brightpoint Community College in the fall and study business management. Her son, Hunter, is a third-year electrical apprentice.


Tomlin is required to put in 200 hours of sweat equity on her house or through volunteering on other Habitat projects. Her family and friends can help her with 100 of those hours.


Tomlin’s future home is being worked on now by Women Build teams that raised money to help complete the house renovation. Work started in April and will run through the summer.


In addition to incredible teams of women, men and high school students from Powhatan, the Women Build project has also been lucky enough to have generous sponsors and gift-in-kind donations from building supplies to labor from those in the trades.


To those teams and givers, Tomlin said, “Thank you for your willingness to donate your time, energy, skills and materials. I am beyond grateful to each person, team and sponsor for choosing to partner with Habitat.”

In January, Habitat for Humanity-Powhatan (HFH-P) launched its first Women Build campaign, a fundraising and building initiative that seeks to empower women through engaging them in the process of providing housing and an affordable mortgage to a Powhatan county household. The goal is to host 200 volunteers, working in teams of eight, who are providing sponsorship and physical help on renovations to HFH-P’s first home rehabilitation in Holly Hills.


Women Build aims to highlight women in the building trades and encourage other women to explore professions within the construction industry, while also encouraging all community members, regardless of gender, to band together under one common goal.


Bringing attainable and safe homes with affordable mortgages to community members is at the heart of the work being done at HFH-P. Median home prices in Powhatan hover at $440,000, according to the Richmond Association of Realtors. Often Habitat homeowners and Habitat applicants have been those who work for the county school system or county government and whose household income fall between 40 and 80 percent of the area median income, which was $100,687 for a household of four in 2022.

Watch this video to hear more!

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