Greater Albuquerque Habitat for Humanity: Building Community

pattern stories
Written by:
Ed Domain

To build a community, it takes a community.

You may have heard of Habitat for Humanity,  and may have seen them mentioned in the local news — but do you know how big of an impact they are making in Albuquerque?

As I get to know people doing things in my adopted city of Albuquerque, I shouldn’t have been surprised when on one recent sunny day, I met up with GAHH’s marketing director, Ryan P. Freeman, to try a local microbrew at Sidetracks.

“Our mission for Habitat is simple,” Ryan explained.  “We are an affiliate of the international organization, are a nonprofit, and our mission is this” (he spread his hands in the air for emphasis):

“End Homelessness.”

Homepage, Greater Albuquerque Habitat for Humanity. 

I was asking him questions about Albuquerque, getting the local perspective, and I started asking about crime and homelessness.

“Are there orgs like Habitat for Humanity here to help?” I asked Ryan after our second round was set on the table with a thump.

He chuckled. “You know I’m the Marketing Manager for the Greater Albuquerque Habitat for Humanity (GAHH), right?”

I admitted I did not, considered all his projects and asked, “When do you sleep?” followed by, “Let me get out my notebook. I have questions.”

The Mission

“Our mission for Habitat is simple,” Ryan explained.  “We are an affiliate of the International Organization, are a nonprofit, and our mission is this” (he spread his hands in the air for emphasis):

“End Homelessness.”

GAHH volunteer.

They do that by helping people qualify for homes they normally could not. Coaching, mentorship and financial literacy play a part, and as Ryan told me, “In the last three years, no one participating in a program with GAHH has defaulted. People are building their lives and an affordable home makes all the difference.”

A New Neighborhood with New Homes 

“We have a larger project we’re working on I’m really excited about,” Ryan told me. “We’re buying plots of land to build a brand new neighborhood.”

Here’s how it works: the Greater Albuquerque Habitat for Humanity purchases vacant land in Albuquerque, and then builds new housing for low-income families that might never have an opportunity to purchase a home.  Volunteers build the homes, and the community as a whole is better for it. 

GAHH Volunteers.

The next project is being developed on 62nd Street and has a green design. Solar and environmentally friendly building practices are the rule. Eight new homes will be built by 2022. 

More people in safe homes means greater security for families, engagement with the community, and a better Albuquerque for everyone.

GAHH Restore: One of the Nation’s Best 

“We have tremendous pride in Restore,” Ryan shared. “Restore is a home improvement store owned by GAHH that sells a variety of things: refrigerators, replacement washers and dryers, cleaning and disinfectant supplies, and more.”

He explained what they have at any one time changes based on donations, but added the GAHH is one of the most successful in the nation and has made a big difference in people’s lives.

“When people shop at Restore, their dollars go towards helping house people in need. It’s really great.”

A Way You Can Help: QR Codes

Point your smartphone camera at the QR code to see it in action.

Ryan is also spearheading a QR code initiative for GAHH. For those who don’t know, the black and white square you see is a QR code. Ryan is placing them around town as a “tip jar” for GAHH. When you see one, point your smartphone camera at the QR Code to open a site where you can make donations to GAHH.

Community Partner


Homewise has partnered with GAHH, as their mission is to also make home ownership more attainable. (We covered Homewise previously, and you can see that here: Homewise.)

“Albuquerque is the type of place where there’s tremendous pride in our home, and helping make it better is a really great way to spend my work day,” Ryan said with a smile. 

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