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.