Habitat for Humanity: A Review
According to Habit for Humanity's official website, Habitat for Humanity is a worldwide, nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing ministry. Their mission statement is "to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness from the world and to make decent shelter a matter of conscience and action."
How is it funded? Through volunteer labor and donations. In addition to a down payment and monthly mortgage payments, homeowners invest hundreds of hours of their own labor (sweat equity) into building their Habitat house and the houses of others. Houses are sold to "partner" families at no profit and financed with affordable loans.
In a Nutshell
Habitat for Humanity is a charitable organization which builds houses for the needy. The organization builds "simple" homes to relieve poverty. Habitat for Humanity, and their volunteers have built hundreds of thousands of homes in their attempt to relieve poverty and homelessness.
Habitat's claim to build homes for the poor, and eliminate homelessness is misleading. In order to qualify for a Habitat home you must be able to pay the mortgage. You cannot be too far in debt, nor can you be recently bankrupt. Therefore Habitat doesn't build for those who are really poor. They build for those who are in the lower-middle/middle income bracket.
Having said that, one must wonder how they claim to "help eliminate homelessness".
Furthermore, if you are one of the "chosen few" who are accepted to qualify you are bound by many stipulations. You must dedicate a substantial amount of time (hundreds of hours in most cases) in "sweat equity" helping to build your home, and/or other homes. Many people with low-income, demanding jobs cannot commit to this - especially if they have families.
Additionally, you don't get a "standard" home. Eighty-two percent of new single-family houses
had at least a two-car garage by 2002, 55 percent had 2.5 or more bathrooms and 87 percent had central air conditioning. Habitat homes do not have any of these features. One can say they are "bare-bone" homes. Not even a single-car garage is included in the building program. Also, Habitat homes are smaller than average. All things considered, Habitat homes are sub-standard.
To top it all off - after you spend hundreds of hours building your home, you may be be homeowner, but the contract forbids you to sell the home for a profit. You are legally bound to stay in the "barebone" home you built.
Former president Jimmy Carter proudly trumpets his support, and involvement in Habitat for Humanity projects. In fact Jimmy Carter has become its most high-profile proponent.
But would Mr. Carter be satisfied to live in a home without a garage? Would he be satisfied with only 1 bathroom? Would he be happy without central air?
An recent article in the Washington times reports: "Jimmy Carter‘s private home is swept twice a day, his pool is cleaned daily and his grass cut, his flower beds weeded and his windows washed on a regular basis — all at taxpayers’ expense.Under an arrangement with the National Park Service, taxpayers are responsible for the exterior of Mr. Carter‘s home in Plains, Ga. — to the tune of $67,841 last year alone." Is this appropriate in times of tight Federal budgets?
At the end of the day the question remains, Mr. Carter, would you be happy to live in a Habitat home?
All evidence on the table, does anyone detect a double standard? Maybe two double standards?
In order to qualify for a Habitat home you must not be poor. You have to have a good credit rating, and you must be able to pay for the home. The homeless, and those who are really in need of a home typically do not qualify.
- you are in over your head in debt, or
- you don't have a steady income, or
- you are poor
...then Habitat for Humanity will reject you
If you do have a decent income, without much debt, and IF you are willing to live under the strict conditions of their contract, and live in a bare-bone, luxury-less home.. then Habitat for Humanity is for you!
But anyone who has the financial capacity to buy a Habitat home may be better off spending the extra dollar for what they really want - and the freedom that comes with it.
Links of Interest
- Habitat for Humanity International - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- Keeping Carter's home neat costs U.S. a tidy sum - Washington Times
The tennis court at former President Jimmy Carter's private home is swept twice a day, his pool is cleaned daily and his grass cut, his flower beds weeded and his windows washed on a regular basis all at taxpayers' expense.