Imagine what life would be like if you didn’t have a place to call “home.” No matter how modest or rudimentary your current living situation is, it’s still your “place.” And, it’s where you and your family members gather to share love, life and daily experiences.
Without Prescott Area Habitat for Humanity, 90 families would not be able to access this privilege, which most of us take for granted. Talk to someone who has been homeless, and you will begin to understand how these families live with a constant burden of uncertainty, stress and fear. Every day, more and more families find themselves in a struggle to keep a decent roof over their heads, right here in the Quad Cities.
Fortunately, this valuable organization is celebrating its 30th anniversary as a local affiliate right here in Prescott. Maybe you know they’ve been here all these years, but do you REALLY know what they do? And, who benefits?
Established locally in 1989, this affiliate has built (and/or renovated) more than 80 ”houses” that were transformed into homes through the efforts of staff, volunteers and families who qualified for the housing. Families who partner with Habitat build their own homes, alongside volunteers, and then pay an affordable mortgage (30-year, interest free).
Habitat for Humanity is a partnership, not a giveaway program – Habitat’s homeowner families buy the houses that Habitat builds and renovates. Habitat homeowners also invest hundreds of hours of their own labor (500 hours per couple – 250 hours per single), working alongside volunteers. As a result of this collaborative model, Habitat for Humanity houses are affordable to local low-income families.
The local Habitat affiliate directly helps people secure decent, affordable housing. We also help people to improve their housing conditions, through a range of indirect services locally and throughout the United States, and in more than 70 other countries.
A decent, safe and affordable place to live transforms a family’s life in other key ways as well, including the following:
Health: “My daughter has asthma,” explains Mario. But since moving out of a dusty apartment and into their new Habitat house, “she hasn’t used her asthma pump once. I don’t even think she needs it any more.”
Child development: Gabe and Sylvia’s Habitat house is designed to accommodate their son Oscar’s disabilities. “Owning this home will allow both Oscar and Lucy to have the quality of life they deserve,” Sylvia explains.
Financial freedom: A statewide survey of Habitat homeowners in Minnesota reveals more savings and more confidence that college is in reach.
Community strength: “As the neighborhood grew, we came to understand what being accepted felt like,” says Cathy. “We are very different families, but we all come together to help each other.”
Habitat for Humanity knows that safe, decent and affordable shelter plays an absolutely critical role in helping families to create a new cycle, one filled with possibilities and progress. Affordable homeownership frees families, and fosters the skills and confidence they need to invest in themselves and their communities. The outcome can be long-lasting and life-changing, as it has been right here in the Prescott area.
With a little help, Habitat homeowners are able to achieve the strength and self-reliance they need to build better lives for themselves and their families. They are empowered to overcome the barriers that so often stand between their families and better, healthier, more financially stable lives.
Studies conducted by academics and experts draw a straight line between housing quality and the well-being of children. Surveys of Habitat homeowners show improved grades, better financial health and parents who are more certain that they can meet their family’s needs. Wherever Habitat works, there is tangible evidence that strong and stable homes help build strong and stable communities.
Decent shelter provides the solid foundation for all of this. It’s the platform on which a family lives out today’s realities, and prepares for tomorrow’s transformations. Every Habitat house changes lives: those of the families who help build them and pay an affordable mortgage or loan, and all those who offer them a hand up in a time of need.
The local Habitat for Humanity Affiliate provides year-round opportunities for community members to support the mission of bringing people together to build homes, communities and hope. Yes, we can all work together to create a world where everyone has a decent place to live. QCBN
By Alyce Ayers