PILLAR SPECIAL AWARD - EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR
Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity
John Habat came to the Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity in 2011 with a lot riding on his shoulders. After a six-month search that encompassed more than 150 applicants for the agency’s open executive director position, Habat was chosen as the person to get things moving again.
The recession and housing crisis that struck the nation in 2008 had taken a particularly tough toll on Cleveland. In fact, there are some who believe Cleveland was “Ground Zero” for the nation’s housing crisis — there have been more than 35,000 foreclosures since 2005. The recession crippled many of the agency’s partner families and some stopped making monthly payments on their no-interest mortgage loans. As a result, the Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity was forced to cut staff and sharply reduce the number of new homes being built.
Habat was seen as someone who could get things moving again. He had a lot of experience in nonprofit management, economic development, public policy and government, and demonstrated his strong financial background during the interview process. In the two years since he was hired, he hasn’t disappointed.
Habat helped the finance committee establish a better family selection process and made the difficult, but necessary decision to initiate foreclosure proceedings on homes in serious default with no hope of being made current.
When Habat began his tenure in 2011, the organization’s housing starts stood at three. It grew to nine in 2012 and projected to 12 in 2013, 14 in 2014 and 16 for 2015. ●