Kramer: Habitat for Humanity providing real solutions to homelessness

November 18, 2013 

Kramer

With all the attention on homelessness and poverty in the Midlands, I’d like to call your attention to an organization that has been a steady and constant player in the fight for affordable housing.

Since 1985, Central South Carolina Habitat for Humanity has provided affordable housing to more than 225 families in the Midlands.

For some, there remains an honest misunderstanding about how our nonprofit, ecumenical Christian ministry works. Our houses are actually sold to our partner families at no profit and financed with affordable no-interest loans. Any person or family in need of decent shelter earning 30 percent to 60 percent of median income is welcome to apply.

Homeownership takes an average of 18-24 months. Our partner families go through a rigorous application and interview process before they are approved. Like all Habitat affiliates, we have a committee that chooses homeowners based on their need, willingness to become partners in the program and ability to repay the loan.

Once approved, partner families enter financial counseling and must log a minimum of 350 sweat-equity hours by helping to build their home as well as other Habitat homes. In addition, each family must complete a comprehensive 12-month course geared toward homeownership preparation. Class subjects include financial management, basic home maintenance, yard care and gardening, legal wills, property taxes and homeowner insurance.

During this time, families also make monthly payments that will be used toward their down payment at the time of closing. This, along with the financial counseling, ensures that families have the financial capability and responsibility to maintain monthly mortgage payments.

Habitat for Humanity provides a real solution to the need for affordable housing in our community. Through sweat equity, volunteerism and no-interest mortgages, we give a hand up, not a handout, to families in need. Families pay it forward not only by volunteering to build homes for other families but also by paying property taxes and contributing to the economic well-being of the community.

Stable housing and homeownership have been linked to wider social benefits including increased educational attainment in children, greater civic engagement and improved physical and mental health for parents and children.

Affordable housing offers real solutions to the problems facing our children, families and economy, and we help to provide it. We challenge you to be an advocate for affordable housing in our community.

Roy Kramer

Executive Director, Central South

Carolina Habitat for Humanity

Columbia

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