Building Homes, Rebuilding Lives! No Land, No Homes!

Building Homes, Rebuilding Lives!
No Land, No Homes!
by William L. Bulla

Recently when asked about where the next Habitat for Humanity homes would be built in Washington County, Sherry Brown Cooper, Executive Director of the local affiliate, replied, "No land, no homes."
She went on to explain that having land on which to build has become a problem. Land costs are going up, thus making it more and more difficult for Habitat to construct affordable homes.
"We have a great need to build more homes! We have families waiting for these homes to be completed. Their need is great! Their need is now! Yet, the Board of Directors is facing great challenges in getting land. We're looking for help! We're looking for donors, either monetary or those who can deed over a piece of land. There are tax benefits both ways!" she said.
"Or, if you are willing to sell it to Habitat below market value, you can use the difference as a tax write-off!" she continued.
The average cost of a home in our county increased $30,400 from 1996 to the beginning of 2004, and has continued to rise since. Even the average rental has increased beyond affordability for low-income families. Housing costs continue to rise faster than wages, resulting in more families living in substandard housing, overcrowded conditions, or forfeiting income needed for food and medical needs in order to have a place to live.
The National Low Income Housing Coalition's "Out of Reach 2004" report reveals how those families living on minimum wage must struggle with the increasing costs of housing. The national standard for affordable housing is no more than 30 percent of income. That means that a person earning minimum wage should be paying $286 a month for housing. Where can a hard-working family find a decent place to raise their family for $268 a month?
Too often a low-income family finds a decent place to live but the cost is beyond the 30% of their gross pay, but they try to make it. Soon they find they can't make ends meet so they have to move to some substandard housing. The children often must change schools. They find themselves in strange, new neighborhoods. Just as they began to make friends, find mentors or feel secure they were uprooted and moved into a whole new scene. Sometimes this moving must occur more than once for a family. From this action other problems develop within the family and with the children. And the cycle goes on and on.
"Habitat for Humanity can help break this cycle! But we need the help of many donors! Together we can make home ownership possible for more families in Washington County," Cooper said.
Anyone having land to donate or offer at a special price, call Habitat for Humanity of Washington County at 301-791-9009.