Monday, March 21, 2011

Charity Highlight: Habitat for Humanity

I am attempting to start a weekly series on various charities to highlight the work they are doing to directly or indirectly promote Catholic Social Teaching and to hopefully inspire you to get involved! There are many to choose from, but I elected to start with Habitat for Humanity because I have volunteered to help build homes several times and so have some knowledge of the work they are doing.

Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity International is a nonprofit, nondenominational Christian housing ministry.


Habitat welcomes all people—regardless of race, religion, ethnicity or any other difference—to build and repair simple, decent, affordable houses with and for those who lack adequate shelter.

Why it's Needed:

The world is experiencing a global housing crisis. About 1.6 billion people live in substandard housing and 100 million are homeless, according to the United Nations. These people are increasingly urban residents, and every week more than a million people are born in, or move to, cities in the developing world. Today, a billion people―32 percent of the global urban population―live in urban slums. If no serious action is taken, the United Nations reports that the number of slum dwellers worldwide will increase over the next 30 years to nearly 2 billion.

In the United States alone, 95 million people have housing problems. That’s one third of the nation. These problems include payments too large a percentage of their income, overcrowding, poor quality shelter and homelessness. Throughout the world, people live in inadequate housing, and Habitat for Humanity is dedicated to providing decent, affordable homes for those in need.

Bad housing has its greatest impact on children. As Lisa Harker, a British housing expert, explains, “Childhood is a precious time when our experiences shape the adults we become―but children who grow up in bad housing are robbed of their future chances….” Those chances are stolen by the detrimental impact poverty housing has on everyday life.

Housing is a great means of wealth creation. For families, especially those with a lower income, who are able to own a home, ownership is an important means of wealth accumulation in the form of equity and forced savings resulting from mortgage repayment. In low-income countries, housing construction creates job opportunities for migrants to cities and stimulates the creation of small business. The process of securing land tenure for informal settlements helps to increase access to credit.

Good housing in communities attracts economic investment and development. Good housing also contributes to thriving school systems and community organizations. It is a catalyst for civic activism and a stimulus for community-based organizations. Safe homes and neighborhoods, in which residents are satisfied with housing conditions and public services, help to build social stability and security.

How it Works:

Local affiliates work in communities around the world to select and support homeowners, organize volunteers and coordinate house building and repair.

Homeowners are selected based on their need for housing, their ability to repay a mortgage and their willingness to work in partnership with Habitat.

Houses are sold through a no-profit mortgage, homeowners and volunteers build or repair under trained supervision, and financial support is provided by many different corporations, individuals, and faith communities.

Other Facts:

Founded in 1976 by Millard and Linda Fuller
Built or repaired over 400,000 houses
Served 2 million people
Affiliates are located throughout the World, including all 50 states

Something I found neat from talking to one of the project coordinators, is that Habitat requires their future homeowners to work for at least 300 hours on their house with 50 of those hours being education on how to own a home; a great way to encourage the responsibility of the receiver of charity as well as teaching them how to own a home responsibly.

Help out Habitat for Humanity!

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