In the spirit of ‘back to school,’ we turned to a recent interview between Habitat for Humanity Seattle-King & Kittitas Counties CEO Brett D’Antonio and Bob Dittman of K-LOVE radio to gather a few facts you might not know about the organization. Click here to listen to the full interview.
- Fact 1 – Habitat for Humanity wasn’t started by Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter. Though the Carters are Habitat’s most famous supporters, the organization grew out of an interracial community in rural Georgia. In 1942, the families of Koinonia Farms started providing housing for each other, creating the model that later became Habitat for Humanity. And it’s been growing internationally ever since.
- Fact 2 – Habitat doesn’t give homes away. Instead, it forms partnerships with potential homeowners who qualify for homes by demonstrating the need for safe, affordable housing; by showing they can pay a modest mortgage; and, most important, by committing to participate in a sweat equity program. That means 250 hours of working on their own or other Habitat homes with volunteers and future neighbors, or volunteering in a Habitat Store or home office. Future Habitat homeowners also attend classes on budgeting, mortgage documentation, even a budgeting class for kids. Another surprising fact — those classes are open to any family that needs to buy a home whether they’re buying through Habitat or not.
- Fact 3 – Habitat goes beyond building homes. Habitat SKC conducts a Critical Home Repair program to provide low-income families with important repairsso they can stay in their homes. Projects in the $15-$25,000 range like a new roof, or a new deck can be done at no up-front cost to the homeowner. Habitat’s Home Preservation Program provides minor repairs that can prevent the need for later critical repair. Habitat volunteers often work in neighborhood clusters so they can serve five or six homes in a single day. Habitat’s Aging In Place program supports individual seniors by adding needed fixes to their homes like grab bars, ramps, easier doorknobs and floors more suited to wheelchair traffic – all based on assessments from health care organizations.
- Fact 4 – Habitat runs a Permanently Affordable Portfolio of Homes. To prevent Habitat homes from ending up on the open market, Habitat buys them back from Habitat homeowners when they move on to buy homes on their own. In those cases, Habitat facilitates home sales from one Habitat buyer to another. One of Brett’s favorite stories is of a Habitat home built on Whidbey Island by active-duty Naval staff for a single mom. She later married and got a better job, so she could buy a home on her own in her new location. Habitat sold that home to another Habitat family who moved on to better circumstances two years later and sold the house to a third Habitat family. “That’s what we’re here for,” Brett said. “I’ll always remember how one house benefited three families in a short period of time.”
- Fact 5 – Habitat Lobbies for Affordable Housing. Through its Cost of Home (COH) Advocacy Campaign, Habitat has spent five years working the State Legislature to pass laws that reform policies like credit or land use access, any laws that make housing more affordable in the State. This year alone, the COH group was able to get $25M added to the State’s budget for affordable home ownership along with other affordable housing measures passed with the help of activists who wrote 9,600 messages to Washington legislators.
Habitat’s mission to create affordable, safe housing for everyone takes many forms, and these five facts are just part of the story. To learn more about Habitat for Humanity SKC and the many ways in which you can get involved visit: How to Help – Habitat for Humanity Seattle-King & Kittitas Counties (habitatskc.org)