Friday, July 28, 2017

25 facts about Habitat for Humanity, the nation's 6th largest home builder that heals communities and changes lives

"A house is to a family what soil is to a plant. A plant needs to be rooted. A family is like that. If a family is not rooted, it will not flourish. But once a family is well-rooted, all kinds of wonderful things will begin to happen." 

Those are the words of Millar Fuller, who formed Habitat for Humanity with his wife. Decades later, their dedication to establishing those "roots" for so many families in need has truly changed the world for the better.

Here are 25 facts about Habitat for Humanity: 

1. Habitat for Humanity was founded on the guiding principle that every person should have a decent, safe, and affordable place to live.

2. To pursue that mission, Habitat for Humanity has built 500,000 homes since 1976, which are currently housing 2.5 million residents.

3. The organization was the brainchild of Millard and Linda Fuller in 1965 when they develop the concept of "partnership housing."

4. The Fullers visited the poor African country of Zaire to test out their model of community home building, and within three years there, they successfully built 120 homes for locals.

5. Encouraged by their success in Zaire, the Fullers started the Habitat for Humanity in the United States in 1976.

6. When a Clive Rainey, a schoolteacher, volunteered to help in 1977, he became Habitat’s first volunteer and started a rich tradition of partnership. Decades later, more than 2 million people have volunteered to work with Habitat building homes.

7. More than forty years later, Habitat operates in 1,400 local communities throughout the U.S., as well as 83 countries around the globe.

8. In the year 2000, Habitat dedicated it’s 100,000 home in New York City. By 2011, Habitat for Humanity was named the 6th largest homebuilder in the U.S., including all of the big, private, for-profit home builders.

9. Former President Jimmy Carter and his family have been long time advocates of the organization, personally volunteering so many times in different capacities that they've directly helped build, renovate and repair 3,944 Habitat homes in 14 countries.

10. Following suit, other Presidents and First Ladies have volunteered and supported Habitat for Humanity, including Gerald Ford; Bill, Hillary, and daughter Chelsea Clinton; George W. and Laura Bush; and Barack and Michelle Obama.

11. Why is Habitat for Humanity’s work so important?

In fact, 2 billion people (about 25% of earth’s total population) around the world live in slum housing. Of that number, about 100 million are homeless, including those left without shelter due to natural disasters, war, or civil unrest, as well as poverty.

12. Furthermore, 1 in 4 people worldwide live in conditions that present harm to their health, safety, prosperity, and opportunities.

13. That’s why Habitat builds about half of their houses in other countries. But while we might think that these all sound like Third World problems, consider that approximately 1/3 of the U.S. population faces housing problems of some kind.

14. These days in the U.S. a full-time minimum wage job isn't enough to pay the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment. In 30 states, even two people working full time at minimum wage can't cover the median rent on an apartment.

15. Following their mission statement to build “simple, decent homes,” their structures are functional but not elaborate. For instance, a  two-bedroom Habitat home is 882 sq. feet, three-bedroom home is 986 sq. feet and a 4-bedroom house is 1196 sq feet.  They’re also built with energy efficiency in mind, and come with a refrigerator, oven range, and hook-ups for a washer and dryer.

16. Habitat has a unique process to determine who receives a home and how prepared they are for home ownership. Recipients are selected based on three primary criteria – a process that includes a thorough screening and credit check.

17. Habitat looks for recipients that are low income and have a need for shelter because their current situation is unsafe, unaffordable, or otherwise untenable.

18. The recipient family also must be willing to perform 300-400 hours of sweat equity, partnering to help build their home or other families' future Habitat homes.

19. Future Habitat homeowners also take classes to learn how to manage a home or finances.

20. But they also have to have the ability to repay the mortgage, taxes, and utilities, since Habitat actually sells them the home – not gives it to them as charity.

21. In fact, Habitat sells them the home at a greatly reduced cost (versus building or buying any other home), so the new owners have it for life and can pass it down to their children.

22. Since the greatest cost associated with home building is the price of skilled labor, Habitat is able to offer homes for a fraction of the price because they rely on volunteers. Likewise, a good portion of materials used are donated, discounted, or salvaged, helping to keep the cost low.

23. Habitat grants them a zero-interest mortgage loan on the home, and the recipients need to pay property taxes, are responsible for maintenance and upkeep. Repayment of the mortgage goes not into someone else's pocket as profit but is reinvested into the Habitat fund to build another house for someone else.

24. A fun and emotional event for new homeowners and Habitat staff alike is when a recipient pays off their mortgage. When that happens, Habitat staff and volunteers come and celebrate with a mortgage-burning ceremony!

25. Habitat homes have been shown to increase self-confidence and self-esteem, increase family stability, produce more high school and even college graduates among children, and make a huge difference in breaking the cycle of poverty.


Would you like to get more information about volunteering for Habitat for Humanity? Contact me! 

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