The McKinsey Global Institute reports that 3.5 million homes in California will be needed by 2025 in order to address a housing crisis in the state.
Combine a reported lack of affordable housing statewide with a poverty rate of 13.45% in the Inland Empire, just lower than the national average of 14.9%, and the need becomes even more daunting.
Habitat for Humanity Inland Valley works on behalf of the 460,000 people they say they serve in the region to bridge that gap, one home at a time.
The nonprofit continually raises funds through grants and other funding sources but relies heavily on the generosity of residents right here in the Temecula Valley, which is why they are hoping that this year’s Christmas Tree Lane event will attract residents to Promenade Temecula.
“Funds raised from Christmas Tree Lane go to support affordable housing programs that offer things like homeownership, home preservation and education, just to name a few,” Tammy Marine, executive director of HFHIV, said. “Everyone deserves a decent, affordable place to live. Although the need is immense, Christmas Tree Lane is helping us get there.”
The event features 20 expertly designed Christmas trees, each sponsored by area businesses and organizations, that will be won by lucky raffle ticket buyers if their ticket is pulled on the tree they want to win.
Christmas Tree Lane has been open since Nov. 4 in an exhibit that lines up all the trees, side by side, located just below the Cheesecake Factory, outside of Macy’s. There is no charge to enter the exhibit, presented by Chase Bank, but raffle tickets are $1 each or $20 for 25.
“Christmas Tree Lane is a special event just by design,” Marine said. “Young and old are mesmerized by the trees, that to many kicks off the holiday season. This year we added a new façade that really makes spectators feel like they are walking down a lane. We have had so many comments on that.”
More than 200 volunteers are there at the mall every day, watching the trees and selling raffle tickets.
“Every dollar Christmas Tree Lane makes supports affordable housing programs,” Marine said. “That alone is a reason to come down and buy tickets. Plus, picking out the tree or trees you want to win is just plain fun.”
The winning tickets for each tree will be chosen at 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 16, just outside the sliding doors next to the exhibit in the courtyard behind Yard House. Winners need not be present to win.
“It celebrates two words I personally love – diversity and hope,” Marine said. “‘Diversity’ because each tree is different, and the audiences of ticket purchasers are equally as diverse. You don’t have to be rich to win a tree and young and old love the trees equally. In terms of ‘hope,’ the event supports programs that give hope to families in southwest Riverside County and what could be better than that?
“I would go so far as to say that CTL is special because it provides a guaranteed smile, fun decorating ideas and a spark of magic, all while supporting a good cause,” she said.
For more information about Habitat for Humanity Inland Valley and Christmas Tree Lane, visit www.habitativ.org.
Jeff Pack can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.