Building Homes, Rebuilding Lives: Habitat...It Shouldn't Work, But It Does!

Building Homes, Rebuilding Lives
Habitat...It Shouldn't Work, But It Does!
by William L. Bulla

What we do at Habitat shouldn't work, but it really does!
It shouldn't work because we use unskilled volunteers. Our volunteers come from all walks of life with little or no construction experience. But it works! Habitat houses have withstood the ravages of time and weather. They have survived under the impact of tornadoes that struck the east coast in 2003. Habitat homes were left standing when others were not. Maybe this is because our volunteers don't know that joints don't need five or six nails. Or, maybe it just shows the love, pride, and care the volunteers put into their work.
It shouldn't work because we say "yes" when others say "no." We provide homes to families who don't qualify for conventional mortgages. We partner with these hard-working individuals to give them a hand up, not a handout. And our foreclosure rate is the lowest in the nation, much less than one percent.
It shouldn't work because what we do is not good business. We are one of the nation's leading homebuilders, but we do not make a profit. Other builders shouldn't like us, but they do. A large number of them partner with us to build affordable housing.
It really shouldn't work, but it does!
It works because of our dedicated volunteers! It works because of our caring donors!
At this time we need land on which to build! We have families needing homes! We have volunteers ready to build! We have donors ready to help with supplies! But we desperately need land, affordable land, on which to build our homes! A donation of land, or an offer to sell at a reduced price, could benefit, not only Habitat, but the donor as well through a tax break.
Safe and decent housing is critical! American Housing Survey data shows that 35% of all the people in the United States, over twice as many people who lack health insurance, and nearly three times more than the number of people with food insecurity, lack safe, decent and affordable housing. And housing problems exist here in Washington County.
Habitat For Humanity of Washington County, an ecumenical Christian housing ministry, is a volunteer-based organization. It addresses the issues of this basic human need, a place for families to live and grow, by providing decent, affordable housing. Habitat homes are primarily funded by contributions of money and in-kind donations of materials, services and land. The homes are built with volunteer labor and "sweat equity" of 500-hours of labor by the family taking title to the home. Habitat sells the home to the family at no profit and offers a zero-interest mortgage on the home. The money from the payments is used to build more homes.
Anyone having land to donate or offer at a special price, or to obtain additional information, call Habitat for Humanity of Washington County at 301-791-9009.

William L. Bulla is a freelance writer residing in Washington County.