Nelson’s branch of Habitat for Humanity needs you. While successful builds have been orchestrated in the past (creating homes for four Nelson families), the local branch is currently in dire need of volunteers to keep things moving and to plan new builds in our town.
Nelson’s only member of Habitat for Humanity, Kathy Fair, explains that the program is a “hand-up” to home ownership, not a “hand-out.”
“And it’s self-perpetuating,” she says. “All of the mortgage payments go into the ‘fund for humanity’ and are used for future projects.”
The program allows hard-working families to enter into an affordable financial partnership with Habitat for Humanity and make mortgage payments based on 25 per cent of their income, with no interest and no down payment. As part of their partnership with Habitat, they are also required to contribute 500 hours of sweat equity toward building their home or volunteering in this community.
“The interest-free loan makes it affordable for families,” Fair says. “If you buy a house through a bank, you’re almost doubling the price of the house by the time you pay it off. A $200,000 house costs a Habitat family $200,000, and not a penny more.”
Habitat for Humanity “believes access to safe, decent and affordable housing is a basic human right that should be available to all,” Fair says.
Habitat for Humanity benefits everybody
In 2015, the Boston Consulting Group conducted a study of the societal effects of Habitat for Humanity in Canada or the “social return on investment” in communities with Habitat homes.
The research concluded that “for every $1 spent about $4 of benefits accrue to society.” And the benefits aren’t just financial, they’re human. The study showed Habitat homeowners were able to find better employment and increase their income, make 60 per cent fewer trips to the food bank, and lead healthier lifestyles.
Empowered by their new situations, habitat homeowners were shown to engage more with their communities, showing higher voting and volunteer rates.
Educational opportunities and performance for children in Habitat homes also improved considerably, showing lower high school dropout rates, and an increased number of university graduates.
Potential projects and where you come in
The Nelson chapter needs a management committee: a team of individuals to brainstorm new and innovative opportunities, jump through regulatory hoops, and help current Habitat homeowners navigate the logistics involved in transitioning from renting to owning their Habitat home.
Nelson currently has four Habitat houses and an empty lot that can be built on. “The empty lot,” says Fair, “is the most exciting part.” Building in Nelson is always an interesting challenge. The build will be tough due to the nature of the physical space, so there’s lots of room for creativity.
You can email Fair at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. An information meeting will be held in Nelson on Jan. 16 for those interested in forming this team.