Rev. Smoot recently became the executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia.
Why did you decide to first get involved in Habitat for Humanity?
I've got a long love affair with Habitat for Humanity stretching back to high school, and did youth builds, and that really kind of fired me up. And through all my churches, have been involved with Habitat, either as a partner in funding or sending out teams on build sites. The most exciting Habitat project I did was when I was a pastor in Madison, Wis. ... I teamed up with a large Lutheran church -- my Presbyterian church and this Lutheran church -- and together we raised $500,000 for Habitat of Dane County to build 18 townhomes right in the middle of this troubled area.
What are your responsibilities as executive director?
The duties are leading a very strong, mission-driven team of about 20 people to work together in order to find land and then fund the builds that we want to do and then build homes or townhomes or rehabilitate properties that we find, and then to select families that fall within our criteria and then mentor them into homeownership ... and get them in the home and stay with them for some time afterwards. ... Then we also have what are called the ReStores. And we have one in Chantilly and one in Alexandria. And the ReStores are a really cool idea where corporations, businesses, individuals donate essentially household goods ... and then folks come in and shop for the stuff at up to 90 percent off retail price.
Is there a great need for affordable homes in Northern Virginia?
It's expensive around here ... Homeowners help drive the cities, help drive the counties, and there is a shrinking stock of affordable homes for sure.