When people see dilapidated housing on the fringe of their community or drive by blighted urban apartment buildings, many feel stymied and think, "What an insurmountable problem."
Las Vegas Faces
Sacrificing for the Future
Show Village Home
But Habitat for Humanity International believes that substandard housing can be eliminated around the globe. "It's an attainable goal," says R. Derrick Morris, director of product partners corporate and foundation giving for the Americus, Ga.-based organization. "The resources are available to do it, and all that is lacking is the will to do it. If we can continue working with and educating people and get them involved, we'll reach the critical mass needed to solve the problem."
Raising awareness among builders and boosting the number of volunteers across the country are two reasons Habitat for Humanity is participating in Show Village for the third year in a row. "We see Show Village as a prime opportunity to demonstrate to builders that they can get involved and make a difference one house at a time," Morris says. "We hope to show that this is a program they can take back to their communities."
Given the hard economic times the country has faced the past couple of years, more people than ever before can no longer afford simple, decent housing. "It's one reason we continue to set new goals and to grow our efforts in this mission," Morris says.
Those efforts include the 21st Century Challenge. Through partnerships with Habitat, local communities are asked to take the lead in identifying their housing needs, make a commitment to eliminate poverty housing and devise a realistic plan to eliminate it by a set date. Communities that have embraced the 21st Century Challenge include Anniston, Ala., LaGrange, Ga., and Jacksonville, Fla.
Habitat Homes at Show Village
Habitat for Humanity International; Habitat for Humanity, Las Vegas Inc.; Miami-based Lennar Homes; Newport Beach, Calif.-based William Lyon Homes; and the Reed Residential Group are working together to deliver three homes to needy Las Vegas families (to learn about one of them, see "Sacrificing for the Future"). Two homes will be constructed off site before the International Builders' Show, and the third is being built on site outside the Las Vegas Convention Center just before the show.
|A hand up, not a handout|
|Habitat emphasizes that it gives recipients of its homes "a hand up, not a handout." They're subjected to rigorous criteria, including:
Habitat recognizes that not every builder is financially able to sponsor a house by itself, but Morris emphasizes that every company, supplier and person can contribute something valuable to the Habitat mission. For instance, most Habitat affiliates accept overstock material such as lumber, plumbing and electrical fixtures, paint and countertops. Some use it for constructing Habitat houses. Others have stores, and when materials aren't appropriate for an upcoming project, they sell the materials and use the money to build additional housing units.
Although each affiliate has specific needs, people always can offer three basic types of contributions:
- Time. Donate time to a local affiliate and try to meet whatever need it might have.
- Talent. Offer skills as a carpenter, electrician, fund-raiser, etc.
- Treasure: Make a monetary contribution, sponsor a house or donate materials.
"No matter how large or small the contribution is, it's greatly appreciated," Morris says. Each contribution, he points out, helps a family move one step closer to the dream of walking into a decent, affordable place to live, perhaps for the first time.
"The person who drives a nail into a wall, paints some trim or wheels in a refrigerator has done that one piece to make a difference in a family's life," Morris says. "They've accomplished much more than building a house. They've built lives and dreams for a family."