Rainbow Build

By Megan Wadding, September 2017 Issue.

The power of community is, as Aristotle put it, a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. The same is true for the efforts being made between Habitat For Humanity’s Tucson chapter and Southern Arizona’s LGBTQ community.

The result of these parts is a whole that’s come to be known as Rainbow Build, the arm of Habitat Tucson that accounts new and affordable homes that are funded and constructed by members of the LGBTQ community.

These homes are known as Rainbow Houses and, according to Joseph Howell, Habitat for Humanity Tucson’s director of philanthropy, the Rainbow Build was born in 2005, with the third one just recently reaching completion.

“[The community] came together to raise awareness of the need for affordable housing, as it relates to social justice issues and to mobilize a diverse array of organizations, groups and individuals in an effort to fight substandard housing in Southern Arizona,” Howell explained.

Through Rainbow Build, the organization hopes to build a strong platform for discussion and lasting partnerships within and around the LGBTQ community while making strides toward change and improving in the lives of hardworking, local families.

A Community Conversation

Just this year alone, Habitat Tucson plans to dedicate a total of 14 homes – including Southern Arizona’s third Rainbow Build home. And, according to Howell, Habitat Tucson will construct a Rainbow Build home every year from here on out.

The Rainbow Build Committee is made up of LGBTQ volunteers who help fund the Rainbow Build. In order to fund and build just one house, it takes more than 3,000 volunteer hours and more than $90,000 in donations from the community.

“The majority of each home is built with volunteer work, with the exception being a few areas that need to be installed by a licensed professional,” Howell explained. “Once the home is complete, we sell it to a hard-working family who has completed our home-ownership program … with a zero-interest mortgage.”

The team of Habitat for Humanity and Rainbow Build volunteers come from all walks of life and, according to Howell, includes everyone from high school students up to 80-year-old retirees, and everyone in between.

“A Habitat build site is a vibrantly diverse place where all sorts of different folks come together, set aside differences and build – literally build – a stronger community,” Howell said.

Building Bridges

Kehaulani Kerr, a realtor and a Rainbow Build volunteer who been involved with Habitat for Humanity Tucson since last summer, was also looking for ways to use her talents and skills to give back to the LGBTQ community when she became involved with Rainbow Build.

“Our goal is to raise awareness about affordable housing in our community and bring to light the organizations, businesses and people in the LGBTQ community who join us in the fight for affordable housing in Southern Arizona,” Kerr said.

Today, Kerr works behind the scenes of Rainbow Build, specifically helping to fundraise and develop the organization’s relationships within the real estate industry.

According to Kevin Walters, a volunteer partner for families in Habitat for Humanity’s home ownership program who has worked on two Rainbow Builds, the intention was never necessarily for this effort to result in a home for an LGBTQ family, but rather to have the LGBTQ community build a house for someone in the Tucson community who needed one.

“[This is] us supporting the overall community by giving back,” Walters said. “Housing is one of the most important issues we face. Affordable housing; it truly changes lives.”

Home Sweet Homeowner

Habitat for Humanity’s prospective home buyers must attend various classes and contribute 250 hours of “sweat equity” before completing the home ownership program, which makes them eligible to purchase one of the program’s houses.

“They are given a family partner to help track their hours, budgets, homework and down payment schedules,” Kerr explained. “They also learn about the financing and budgeting.”

According to Howell, Habitat Tucson makes every effort to recruit a very “diverse pool of applicants” for home ownership, including LGBTQ home buyers, and this year the Rainbow Home is being purchased by a straight ally who is a single mother of three daughters.

“[This family is] thrilled to receive a home built by the LGBTQ community,” Howell said.

This year’s Rainbow Build home is in Copper Vista, which is one of Rainbow Build’s focus areas. The property was received by Habitat Tucson through a collaboration with the City of Tucson in 2012.

According to Howell, the purchaser of this year’s home was selected for Habitat’s home ownership program last year. Since entering the program, she has attended several classes where she gained knowledge in such areas as budgeting, home maintenance and various other skills that are designed to contribute to her success as a homeowner.

And, as part of her 250 hours of sweat equity, the future homeowner was able to roll up her sleeves and be a part of the construction of her own future home.

In the meantime, Howell added, the idea for a Rainbow Build is spreading nationally.

“Since its inception in 2005, Rainbow Builds are popping up in cities like Washington DC, Seattle, Minneapolis and San Diego, to name a few,” Howell said. “It’s really exciting to see a home-grown concept take root across the county.”

For more information, visit habitattucson.org/get-involved/events/rainbow-build

Keep readingShow less
WhistlePig + Alfa Romeo F1

SHOREHAM, VT (September 13, 2023) — WhistlePig Whiskey, the leaders in independent craft whiskey, and Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake are waving the checkered flag on a legend-worthy release that’s taking whiskey to G-Force levels. The Limited Edition PiggyBack Legends Series: Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake Barrel is a high Rye Whiskey selected by the Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake drivers, with barrels trialed in their wind tunnel to ensure a thrilling taste in every sip.

The third iteration in WhistlePig’s Single Barrel PiggyBack Legends Series, the Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake Barrel is bottled at 96.77 proof, a nod to Valtteri Bottas’ racing number, 77, and the precision of racing. Inspired by Zhou Guanyu, the first Chinese F1 driver, this Rye Whiskey is finished with lychee and oolong tea. Herbal and floral notes of the oolong tea complement the herbaceous notes of WhistlePig’s signature PiggyBack 100% Rye, rounded out with a juicy tropical fruit finish and a touch of spice.

Keep readingShow less
by Spectrum Medical Care Center

Nurse Practitioner Ari Kravitz

When I started medical transition at 20 years old, it was very difficult to get the care I needed for hormone replacement therapy because there are very few providers trained in starting hormones for trans people, even though it’s very similar to the hormones that we prescribe to women in menopause or cisgender men with low testosterone.

I hope more providers get trained in LGBTQ+ healthcare, so they can support patients along their individual gender journey, and provide the info needed to make informed decisions about their body. I’ve personally seen my trans patients find hope and experience a better quality of life through hormone replacement therapy.

Keep readingShow less

Descanso Resort swimming pool and lounge area

Descanso Resort, Palm Springs' premier destination for gay men, just received Tripadvisor's highest honor, a Travelers' Choice "Best of the Best" award for 2023. Based on guests' reviews and ratings, fewer than 1% of Tripadvisor's 8 million listings around the world receive the coveted "Best of the Best" designation. Descanso ranked 12th in the top 25 small inns and hotels category in the United States. Quite an accomplishment!

Open less than two years, Descanso Resort offers gay men a relaxing and luxurious boutique hotel experience just minutes away from Palm Springs' buzziest restaurants, nightclubs, and shopping. Descanso has quickly established itself as a top destination for sophisticated gay travelers, earning hundreds of 5-star guest reviews and consistently ranking in Trapadvisor's top positions alongside brother properties Santiago Resort and Twin Palms Resort.

Keep readingShow less