Morris Habitat for Humanity has been working to provide safe, decent and affordable housing for people in need in the Morris County area for 35 years. But when the pandemic struck, new crises challenged the organization to evaluate and broaden its mission.

“The COVID-19 health crisis quickly became an economic crisis,” said Blair Schleicher Wilson, CEO of Morris Habitat. “We knew our housing work would be more important than ever, but we also recognized we should broaden our mission to help the community when and where it needed it most. We immediately began partnering with other community organizations to meet those needs.”

That meant donating 4,000 N-95 masks to the Morris County Office of Emergency Management and the Boonton Fire Department. Morris Habitat had the masks in storage for building projects.

Morris Habitat sponsored virtual food drives and hosted free mobile food pick ups in partnership with Interfaith Food Pantry and Table of Hope. The virtual food drive collected more than a ton of healthy food products and essential supplies, while the free food distribution served more than 250 families in need of fresh groceries. The organization’s legions of dedicated volunteers were mobilized to help organize and staff these efforts as well.

Additionally, Morris Habitat’s ReStore, a discount retail home improvement center, donated a truck full of furnishings and household goods to Homeless Solutions. This allowed the organization to expand its shelter for safe social distancing between residents.

All the while, Morris Habitat’s critical building projects continued, understanding that affordable housing would be needed now more than ever.

The organization is on track to complete eight new homes by the end of 2020 in Succasunna and Passaic, and plans are underway for two of the largest projects in the organization’s history.