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The Habitat Company: Building Community One Home at a Time

Cara Collective founder, Tom Owens, presenting the Good Neighbor Award to The Habitat Company at Tribute to the Stars 2015.

Our participants’ long-term success is built on relationships with trusted employment partners that collectively provide more than 900 jobs annually to untapped talent across Chicago and beyond. We couldn’t create hope, jobs, and opportunity without them, which is why we are spotlighting our employment partners and their commitment to building an inclusive economy. This month, get to know our longtime friend and partner The Habitat Company.

For members of our community who may not know The Habitat Company, tell us a little bit about the organization.

The Habitat Company was founded in 1971 on the premise that no project is only an investment in real estate – it is an investment in the future of the community and in the lives of the people who will live and work there. For more than five decades Habitat team members have taken great pride in providing residents of every Habitat community with the same excellent level of service, regardless of income. We have successfully delivered management services in markets as a property manager of approximately 20,000 units consisting of market rate, mixed-income, affordable, senior housing, and condominium. Additionally, we have developed more than 17,000 residential units, and we currently manage over 80 communities across five states: Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

Habitat has employed 427 Cara participants in 947 temporary, long-term, and permanent jobs. What about Habitat’s work and culture makes Cara a great fit for your hiring needs?

Our culture and business goals are very much aligned. Habitat’s first development 50 years ago was an affordable property, and today, we manage 9,000 senior and tax credit housing units in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Missouri. The goal is to create an environment that transforms and strengthens the communities we serve. 50 Years ago, Mr. Levin said, “Everyone deserves quality, safe housing no matter their income.” We have never wavered from this and strive to work in earnest to grow our affordable business line to do just that.

Over the course of our partnership, what types of roles have you hired our participants for?

The various positions include administrative, social services, service technicians and assistant managers.

How have Cara participants impacted your organization as a whole?

Having an understanding of participants’ journeys and what they have accomplished is a great example of perseverance. Our team understands that giving people a second chance not only to make a living, but to make a life, is powerful.

Do you have any specific stories of Cara participants who went the extra mile on the job? If so, we’d love to know them!

Nancy L. consistently took the time to listen to residents’ concerns and would follow up with solutions. She defused a situation when the resident began to receive legal notices for non-payment of rent. She quickly began to assist with filing and coordinating resident certification for our staff. She was the first one in the office and walked out with the last person. She is hardworking, trustworthy, and the perfect hire for ACM at The Concord at Sheridan Apartments.

What can participants expect to learn during their time on The Habitat Company’s team?

In addition to enhancing both hard and soft skills, they will learn what makes our organization tick, why it’s special, and why people stay and thrive. Career happiness has much more to do with social dynamic than with the actual job functions and task. They will learn how to build rapport, understand how to be a great listener, and get comfortable approaching people in leadership positions.

How has the partnership between The Habitat Company and Cara Collective grown over the years?

We have continued to strengthen our partnership with Cara over the years through enhanced communication, participation, and increased number of Cara (Habitat) team members. Habitat team members sit on various committees and work closely with Cara to bring additional focus to this incredibly worthy cause.

To meet more of our employment partners, check back here for the latest spotlights. You can also engage with our mission in other ways:

  • Want to hear from a Cara Connects participant rocking her job at The Habitat Company? Read Martha’s story.
  • Do you work for a company interested in hiring our motivated job seekers? Contact us!
  • Is your organization looking to deepen their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion? Check out Cara Plus.