Habitat For Humanity Delivers
Jul 1, 2012 - 11:02:44 AM
LOS ANGELES—You have probably heard the name before: Habitat for Humanity. What exactly is the organization, though? What does it do and how does it serve the community?
Homeowners Eric and Shemika Draughan are proud to be able to raise their son Jordan in their new home in Lynwood, California. Photo courtesy of Habitat for Humanity/Steffan Hacker.
Habitat for Humanity International is an organization that was founded in 1976 by Millard and Linda Fuller. The Fullers, inspired by their visit to the small Christian community of Koinonia Farm, embarked on their own quest to provide housing for all who deserved and desired it. According to Habitat, it was the founding Fullers who "developed the concept of 'partnership housing,'" which hinged on the idea of " those in need of adequate shelter working side by side with volunteers to build simple, decent houses."
Today, Habitat for Humanity is an international organization that assists individuals all over the world, and has successfully built over a half million homes which provide shelter to approximately 2.5 million individuals in over 90 countries.
Though it serves the world over, there are plenty of ways locals can get involved with Habitat for Humanity, specifically though the Greater Los Angeles branch. Megan Kelly, the Coordinator, Entertainment, Marketing & Communications for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles, explains the positive mission of the local branch of Habitat for Humanity.
"The overwhelming need for housing in Los Angeles County has provided Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles (HFH GLA) with a unique opportunity to change lives in our neighborhoods," Kelly explains. "Los Angeles ranks as one of the least affordable housing areas in the U.S. and yet Habitat for Humanity is one of the few – if not only – affordable home ownership programs that serves families and individuals earning 30-80% of the median family income. Cost burden and overcrowding are the most serious problems experienced by very low-income area residents. Working with volunteers, families and individuals, corporations, congregations and donors we are able to tackle this important housing issue throughout the Los Angeles area. We are dedicated to making homeownership possible for hardworking, low-income families and individuals."
One of the exciting things about Habitat for Humanity is that not only does it provide the basic necessity of shelter, but it encourages the accompanying responsibilities that come with home-ownership. The organization offers not a hang-out, but a hand-up; Habitat for Humanity requires its homeowners "to invest up to 500 hours of sweat equity to help build their home and each qualify for a 0% interest mortgage," Kelly points out.
"Since 1990, we have built and rehabilitated more than 400 homes in neighborhoods all across Los Angeles County and more than 700 globally. Shelter is a basic human need and Habitat for Humanity strives to achieve its goal of eliminating substandard housing by making decent, sustainable and affordable housing a reality for everyone."And volunteers are very much wanted! The organization thrives through the generosity both of volunteers who give their time, and those who volunteer supporting funds. "Volunteers are the heart of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles," Kelly explains. "Thousands of volunteers lend a hand to build and rehabilitate homes with us each year. HFH GLA brings together individual and group volunteers to ensure that everyone can live in safe, decent and affordable housing."
Volunteers can sign up online to volunteer at construction sites, in Habitat for Humanity offices, and in the group's ReStores. (The ReStore sells donated materials including new and gently used furniture, appliances, lumber, hardware, vintage and unique items to the public. All prices are at least 50% off retail value and all proceeds from the ReStore are used toward the Habitat for Humanity mission to end substandard housing worldwide.) No previous construction experience is necessary to volunteer.
Donations to Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles are also tax-deductible and can be used to help Habitat for Humanity to fight poverty and the housing crisis and to empower the community as a whole.
There are various ways to support Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles. To learn more about this organization, one can visit habitatla.org or like the group on Facebook or follow it on Twitter.
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