Hfhcc Hfh Macedonia A

HFHCC hosts HFH Macedonia affiliate officials

While the mission of Habitat for Humanity of Citrus County (HFHCC) is bring people together to build homes, neighborhoods and hope for those in Citrus County, its work extends far beyond the borders of Citrus County. 

For the past dozen years, HFHCC has partnered with Habitat for Macedonia, an international affiliate formed in 2005 in Southeastern Europe to help meet the needs of its citizens struggling with safe, affordable housing.

On Saturday, March 25, the HFHCC Board of Directors and administrative staff were honored to host Zoran Kostov, the national director for HFH Macedonia, and Dragan Malinovski, its Board chairman. HFHCC President/CEO George Rusaw provided the international visitors a tour of its Inverness ReStore as well as its Habitat at Citrus Springs development. 

Afterward, Kostov provided HFHCC’s Board of Directors, Rusaw and other administrative staff with a deep overview of HFH Macedonia’s program and the in-roads it has made over the years in its mission overseas. East Pasco and Citrus County were the first overseas trip HFH Macedonia had made post pandemic, Kostov said, noting the importance of visiting its two key financial supporters of their overseas mission.

In the past five years, HFH Macedonia has built six new multi-family apartment buildings, totaling 48 units, which house mostly young families. Each apartment is 500 square feet compared to the 200 to 300 square feet apartments they’d been living in, Kostov said. 

“That’s relatively large,” Kostov said of the living space.

Each new build or renovation focuses on providing energy efficiency, which has proven essential since their country is faced with energy insecurity because of the current conflict between Ukraine and Russia. Russia has historically been the largest provider of fuel sources, Kostov said, but because of international restrictions placed upon Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, Macedonia and other European countries have been forced to find other fuel alternatives. Residents have seen energy bills consume upward of 30% of their monthly income.

One of its best projects thus far has been the renovation of a 14-story, 112-unit apartment building. Built in 1960, HFH Macedonia rehabbed the structure in 2012. By doing so, the energy efficient measures put into place are the equivalent of one small power plant, Kostov said.

“The more we can do that,” Kostov said of establishing energy efficient measures, “the more our families can save.”

HFH Macedonia isn’t just a leader in the country for providing stable, affordable housing or energy efficiency measures. Government leaders invited HFH Macedonia to assist in writing building design and codes and national housing policy laws.

“The opportunity to see today what you’re doing is impressive,” Malinovski said. “While there’s many differences between what we’re doing, the Habitat for Humanity mission is the same: help families and people in need of decent, affordable housing.

“Your support of our efforts is unwavering and key to what we’re doing. We cannot thank you enough.”

Kostov and Malinovski had one final surprise for the HFHCC Board of Directors and especially Rusaw. In recognition of the long-time support of HFH Macedonia under Rusaw’s leadership, Malinovski informed local HFHCC officials that Rusaw had been named as an honorary board member of HFH Macedonia.

“What you are doing in Macedonia is amazing and inspirational,” Rusaw said. “We are excited to see the impact you’re having on families and your country.”