Our team, The Bibeau Group, spent a day recently helping to construct a house with Habitat for Humanity. We learned a great deal about this valuable organization and the opportunities they offer to families in need.
The Keller Williams Denver Tech Center office has become very involved in volunteering for Habitat for Humanity projects in the Denver area this year. 45 volunteers from our office have assisted on the construction of 4 houses during since March 2007 and have logged just over 400 hours of volunteer time to date.
The driving philosophy behind Habitat for Humanity is that decent and affordable housing empowers people to reach their full potential. "By freeing families from the unending struggles that accompany inadequate shelter, these houses open doors to increased self esteem and self reliance. With the stability of a safe and affordable home, children to do better in school and families set different goals for their lives. Families can devote more attention to jobs, education, health and community. Neighborhoods are revitalized and in the process of bringing people together to build, Habitat creates a strong sense of community".
Habitat for Humanity assists families who currently live in substandard housing, are willing to volunteer 250 to 500 hours of "sweat equity" labor on Habitat homes, and earn $19,800 - $38,400 (depending on family size) per year to repay their mortgage. Additionally, all Habitat partner families participate in a Homebuyer Education Program, which provides them with additional skills needed to increase economic self-sufficiency and become successful homeowners.
Qualified families purchase Habitat homes with zero-interest loans and make mortgage payments based on 25 percent of the family's income. Mortgage payments are reinvested into the program to fund future construction.
In the Denver area and around the country, affordable housing is a vital issue and is inter-connected with so many other challenges for families. The following statistics highlight some of these issues in Denver:
- 25% of homeless children lose one full grade level a year.
- Average homeless adult costs over $40,000 in tax payer assistance per year (jail, detox, hospital treatment, etc.).
- 300 homes in metro Denver are without a bathtub, shower, or flush toilet.
- Food Stamp assistance has risen 45% in the past five years to 55,000 households in Denver.
- #1 way to break the cycle of poverty is to build assets. Habitat families leave public assistance, build assets, contribute back, pay property and income taxes.
Habitat for Humanity volunteers helped build 42 homes in the Denver metropolitan area in 2006.
The Bibeau Group's day of volunteering involved hanging drywall in a house in West Denver. There were approximately 30 volunteers onsite that day, working on two homes. The home our team worked on was for a family of eight, originally from the Republic of Congo. The family is very excited to own a home and land in the United States and "to become a true part of this country".
For more information about Habitat for Humanity, or to find out about donations and volunteering, please visit their website.