Virtually everyone has heard of Habitat for Humanity but what do they really do? Through partnering with various groups, including the housing recipients themselves, they are chipping away at the most pressing of needs – that everyone deserves safe, decent, and affordable housing. The Habitat for Humanity International website says it best.
“No matter who we are or where we come from, we all deserve to have a decent life. We deserve to feel strength and stability day after day. We deserve to know we have the power to take care of ourselves and build our own future.”
The model is brilliantly designed to ensure that the involvement and commitment of the home recipients are at the core of the process. Potential Habitat homeowners have to meet stringent requirements. They must currently be living in inadequate housing, i.e. overcrowded, unsafe, unaffordable, or unsanitary. Partnering with Habitat is a prerequisite through homeowner education and 200+ hours of sweat equity by volunteering, often helping build the home of a future neighbor. Their ability to pay is analyzed just as any other homeowner requiring good credit and an adequate income to cover their mortgage.
Through the financial contributions of individuals, group donations, and housing sponsorships fueled by volunteer labor, the homeowners are able to repay for the homes built locally for $55,000 over 30 years at 0% interest. Mortgage payments range from $555 to $637 a month. This is usually below what they have been paying in rent often in substandard conditions. Locally, the annual mortgage payments contribute $750,000 to build more houses.
The Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity (AAHH) was the first NC affiliate in 1983, seven years after its founding in 1976 in Americus, Georgia, and a year before Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter embarked upon their 34 years of volunteering for a week with the Carter Work Project building almost 4,000 homes in 14 countries. Habitat International currently works in 70 countries helping more than 9.8 million people with improved living conditions.