Habitat for Humanity for Metro Denver
Location: Denver, CO
Industry: Affordable Housing
The people, more than any other factor, are the key to success, Habitat for Humanity for Metro Denver CEO Heather Lafferty said.
“I’ve witnessed many times that success doesn’t come about because of long-term plans, organizational structures, policies or processes. It is always because of the people involved,” she said. “From the very beginning of my career, I’ve been lucky to work with exceptional people who care about doing transformative work. My greatest leadership lesson is to always find the people who care the most and take the initiative to make a difference. That’s what drives success and makes our work a lot more fun!
“I am passionate about changing the systems that prevent people from realizing their full potential and will continue to advocate for a future where everyone has equitable opportunities to grow and thrive.”
Habitat for Humanity is a global housing organization that envisions a world where everyone has a decent place to live. Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver was one of the first 10 U.S. affiliates and is currently one of the largest, based on annual households served.
Since 1979, Habitat has served more than 1,300 local households, representing more than 5,000 adults and children who are now living in decent and affordable housing across Metro Denver.
Lafferty has made a difference as a leader of Habitat locally and nationally since 1999, including in her role as CEO, beginning in 2008. Lafferty has quadrupled the affiliate’s housing production over the past two decades. Under her leadership, the $30 million organization now serves more than 200 new households annually, advocates for housing and racial equity policies and mobilizes tens of thousands of volunteers across the metro area.
Habitat’s global vision is a world where everyone has a decent place to call home, but that’s a significant challenge in Colorado, where the affordable housing crisis is one of the most critical issues facing the state. In the past decade, the cost of housing has increased at twice the rate of incomes in Metro Denver. This means that essential members of the workforce — like teachers, nurses and first responders — are struggling to afford to live in the communities they serve.
“Our city, state and nation are all facing an affordable housing crisis,” Lafferty said. “Housing costs are increasing exponentially faster than incomes — keeping people from achieving their dreams. Our community has the resources and knowledge to be different — better — we just need the will to do it.”
Habitat is committed to improving the housing landscape so that more people of all ages find stability and opportunity through homeownership. Specifically, Lafferty is leading the organization to address the supply issues that continue to create record-low inventory in the market and put upward pressure on inflation. Habitat also actively advocates for housing and racial equity policies to be a catalyst for change. “Heather is personally passionate about changing housing policies that have historically marginalized and restricted BIPOC households from becoming homeowners and building wealth through housing,” her staff said.
Lafferty’s commitment to the community goes beyond her work with Habitat Metro Denver. She serves as board chair of the Neighborhood Development Collaborative, which advocates for housing justice. She also lends her expertise as a board member/ advisor for a variety of entities, including CU Denver Business School, Prodigy Ventures LLC, Prosper CO, Rose Community Foundation, Colorado Healthcare Affordability and Sustainability Enterprise and the national Homeownership Opportunity Alliance.
"The people, more than any other factor, are the key to success."