Riding 4,000 miles isn’t easy – riders need motivation, and more importantly, treats. Families and friends can help out by sending letters, food, and anything else that will keep spirits up, using HBC’s handy mail drop locations! Local post offices will hold mail for riders until they arrive. Please send mail at least one week in advance (see itineraries for precise scheduling).
What is the Habitat Bicycle Challenge?
The Habitat Bicycle Challenge (HBC) is a 4,000 mile odyssey to provide affordable housing for the poor. Each year the coast-to-coast bike ride raises money and awareness for Habitat for Humanity.
Where do you go?
The three trips all start in New Haven, CT, but that’s the last day they see each other. The Northern trip ends in Seattle, WA, Central goes to Portland, OR, and HBC South ends in San Francisco, CA.
Who are the cyclists?
Each trip consists of 30 riders, all college students, who raise a minimum of $4,000 before the summer even begins. A majority of the riders come from Yale, but HBC draws riders from colleges all over the country.
How long does the ride take?
All three HBC trips take approximately 9 weeks. This year, we are leaving New Haven on Saturday, May 28 and reaching the Pacific at the end of July.
Why are there three smaller trips instead of one large one?
There are two reasons. The first is logistical. HBC depends on the kindness of small communities to house and feed us each night. Many places we stay would be unable to accommodate 90 riders, but can easily handle 30. Second, having three trips gives us a chance to reach out to many more communities. In every town HBC passes through we talk to people about Habitat for Humanity and explain how they help provide affordable housing.
How do the Habitat Bicycle Challenge riders raise money?
Some riders raise an entire $4,000 with a letter-writing campaign. Others canvass door-to-door. Some students have managed to get entire fraternities or church congregations to work with them to raise money for Habitat for Humanity. Many riders exceed the $4,000 minimum and raise as much as $6,000.
How much of the money raised goes to overhead?
As little as possible. We cover our overhead with grants and corporate sponsorships so that almost all of the donated money goes directly toward the construction of homes. During the trip there are very few expenses: we cut costs by staying in churches and community centers where members provide us with dinners.
How do I become a rider?
Any college student can become a member of the HBC team. To apply, click the “Apply Now” link at the top of the page.
How else can I become involved?
Sponsorship: Sponsors are extremely important in underwriting the cost of HBC. We already have a number of exciting sponsors lined up for this year’s trip, and would welcome more. If your company would be interested in becoming a cash or in-kind sponsor, please let us know! Individuals can also become day-sponsors, underwriting the cost of one day’s ride.
Join us for a day: In some towns you will be able to raise money for your local Habitat affiliate riding with us for a day. We also encourage residents to join us riding into or out of their city.
We also welcome individuals who want to help us out with accommodations or publicity in the various towns we stay in. For more information on any of these opportunities, please contact the trip leaders.
How do I donate?
Head over to our donation page to find out! It’s easy and fast – you can either send a check or donate right now using your credit card.
Are you coming through my town?
Check our route plan and find out!
What is Habitat for Humanity?
Habitat for Humanity International, Inc. is a not-for-profit organization that works in partnership with people from all walks of life in an effort to develop affordable housing communities for people in need.
How does it work?
Through volunteer labor and tax-deductible donations of money and materials, Habitat builds and rehabilitates simple, decent houses with the help of partner families. Homeowners are required to contribute 300-500 hours of “sweat equity” to the construction of their Habitat house and the houses of others. Habitat houses are sold to partner families at no profit and financed with affordable, interest-free loans. The homeowners’ monthly mortgage payments are then recycled into a revolving Fund for Humanity that is used to build more houses.
What does a Habitat house cost?
Currently, a three-bedroom Habitat house in the United States costs the homeowner an average of $42,500. Prices differ slightly depending on location and the cost of land, professional labor and materials. In developing nations, a Habitat house costs $700-$5,000, depending on design, materials and location. Habitat houses are affordable for low-income families because there is no profit included in the sale price and no interest charged on the mortgage. The average length of a Habitat mortgage in the United States is 20 years. Internationally, mortgage length varies from 7 to 30 years.
How are Habitat’s partner families selected?
Whether in the U.S. or overseas, families in need apply to local Habitat affiliates. The affiliates’ family selection committees consider the applicant families’ level of need, willingness to become partners in the Habitat program and their ability to repay the mortgage. Every affiliate follows a nondiscriminatory policy of family selection. Neither race nor religion is a factor in choosing Habitat homeowner families.
Where does Habitat for Humanity operate?
There are now more than 1,300 active affiliates located in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. There also are more than 250 international affiliates coordinating some 800 building projects in 59 other countries around the world.
Where does the money raised by HBC go?
The money goes to three places:
- Habitat for Humanity of Greater New Haven construction projects
- The Collegiate Build, a student-run theme build in New Haven’s Newhallville neighborhood
- Habitat affiliates in New Haven’s sister cities around the world.
Wouldn’t it be easier and more productive to just spend the summer raising money and building houses?
It would certainly be easier, but nowhere near as productive. When the bike ride begins, we will have already raised enough money to meet our monetary goal. For the ensuing 9 weeks we concentrate on our second goal, raising awareness. We present slideshows about Habitat in the towns we stay in. We talk to residents about Habitat and why we believe so strongly in Habitat’s mission. We even take a few days off to work with volunteers on local Habitat projects, sharing information about our experiences with Habitat as well as our energy.
Why Do We Need Habitat?
Millions of Americans face a housing crisis.
In fact, 5.1 million American families have “worst-case” housing needs, forced to pay more than half their income for housing, endure overcrowded conditions and/or live in houses with severe physical deficiencies. While the number of families in poverty is growing, the number of affordable rental units is shrinking, and most families who qualify for government housing assistance aren’t receiving any aid.
Worldwide, the need is even greater.
Some 2 billion people worldwide live in poverty housing. More than 1 billion live in urban slums, and that figure is expected to double by 2030. Many of these people earn less than US$2 per day.
Housing problems have far-reaching consequences.
The high cost of housing leaves low-income families little money for other basic necessities like food, clothing or health care. Substandard housing can endanger the health and safety of its occupants, erode their hope and self-worth, and impair their children’s ability to succeed in school.
Habitat for Humanity is changing lives.
Working in partnership with low-income families to build decent homes they can afford to buy, Habitat helps to break the cycle of poverty and hopelessness. By the end of 2005, more than a million people worldwide will live in decent, affordable Habitat for Humanity houses.
How Does Habitat Build Houses?
The international Habitat organization is composed of many local affiliates, including Habitat for Humanity of Greater New Haven. These affiliates actually do most of the home construction, encouraging community members to volunteer their time and donate both money and building materials. Using these raw materials and volunteer labor, local Habitat branches rehabilitate existing stock or build modestly-sized new homes.
These houses are not given away, though. Instead, families who live in Habitat houses must contribute several hundred hours of their own labor to the construction of their home. This “sweat equity” takes the place of a down payment. Habitat for Humanity then finances their purchase of the house with a special low-interest mortgage. Incoming loan payments are then used to fund the construction of more houses, ensuring that every donation is leveraged to get the maximum possible benefit.
How Does the Bicycle Challenge Fit In?
In addition to raising awareness across the country and stimulating the formation of new Habitat chapters, HBC raises several hundred thousand dollars for the New Haven Habitat chapter. Every year, the Bike Challenge raises enough money to fully fund the construction of several houses, including the Collegiate Build.