Habitat for Humanity program has helped millions to better life
Sandy Rempel, the family services manager for Habitat for Humanity in Niagara, gave a brief history of Habitat for Humanity explaining that the concept of partnership housing was started by Millard and Linda Fuller in Georgia. In 1973, they took their Fund for Humanity concept to Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo, but three years later returned to the United States and Habitat for Humanity International was founded in 1976.
The involvement of U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn has greatly boosted the awareness of the program and Habitat now works in nearly 1,400 communities across the U.S., 55 affiliates in Canada and in approximately 70 countries and has helped 9.8 million people achieve strength, stability and independence through safe, decent and affordable shelter.
Sandy pointed out that Habitat for Humanity Niagara celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2017 and in that time has built 57 homes.
She explained that families chosen for new homes are carefully screened. Each family must invest 500 volunteer hours in the building stage. The home is sold at full market value but with no down payment and an interest free mortgage for 15 years. Payments are geared to the family’s income and are never more than 30% of income including taxes and utilities.
Sandy said that among families receiving a new home, 89% reported improved family life, 86% are happier and 70% report improved health.
Habitat works with volunteers, donors, students and families and is a member of the Niagara Home Builders’ Association. She pointed out that Niagara College has been involved in the building of 12 homes and the District School Board of Niagara in three. She added that every dollar invested in Habitat’s homeownership program generates $4 of benefits to society.
Sandy also pointed out that Habitat ReStores support the home building program through money raised by selling donated home improvement items. The stores also have an Ewaste program.
Sandy said that securing land for new building projects is always difficult but pointed out that, as part of a 25th anniversary project, five homes are being built on one location in Welland and that a large property has been secured in Niagara Falls which has space for 25 homes.
Our speaker at the April meeting will be Niagara-on-the-Lake native Owen Bjorgan speaking about the Hidden Corners of Ecuador.