The Basics: What You Should Know About Habitat for Humanity

Chances are pretty good that you’ve heard about Habitat for Humanity. But even though you may have heard about Habitat, you may wonder what they do. The simple fact is that Habitat for Humanity is a wonderful organization and has plenty that’s worth learning about.

In today’s world, there are a lot of challenges that people face. The unfortunate reality is that some folks don’t have access to a home, might be at risk of losing their home, or might not be able to afford one. Any of these situations is very difficult, especially since shelter is one of the most basic parts of human survival. Making sure that everyone has access to a home is one of Habitat for Humanity’s main goals.

So what does Habitat for Humanity do? It’s an organization that helps families looking to attain home ownership in a way that helps them get back on their feet. Habitat operates in nearly every US state and in many countries the world over. Bottom line: they do a lot of good work for a lot of people in need.

Who Habitat For Humanity Is

Habitat for Humanity was actually founded in 1976 by Millard and Linda Fuller. Though it is a Christian organization, Habitat has worked for years to provide homes to people without trying to persuade them to become Christian. Instead, Habitat’s goal is to spread the joy and love of God by performing community acts and helping out in any way they can. Habitat for Humanity projects are actually open to everybody, regardless of their religion, their race, or any other factors.

One thing you may not know about Habitat for Humanity is that while they do build new homes, they also do home remodeling and essential renovations such as plumbing. But if you want to know about Habitat for Humanity projects, the basics are that they provide people with a place to live and help them to feel safe and at home.

What Habitat For Humanity Does

As you have read about Habitat for Humanity, it provides homes for families and people in need. But their projects are about much more than that and often have a deeper impact. Habitat for Humanity projects provide opportunities for thousands of people to give back to their community, to get people back on their feet, and even help out others in other parts of the world.

So who qualifies for a Habitat project? Actually, anybody in need of a home can apply regardless of their religion or race. It starts with an application, which can actually be found online or at a local habitat office. Applications are reviewed and applicants are selected based on three main criteria:

  • Need
  • Their willingness to work with Habitat
  • Their ability to pay off a mortgage in the future

Now if you read the above criteria and are scared, especially about the mortgage part, don’t be. The truth is that Habitat houses come with a mortgage, but the mortgage on the house is designed to fit a person’s needs or a family’s needs so that they can pay it off in a way that’s affordable to them. So if you need a home and you can’t currently afford to buy one, it may not hurt to apply in your local Habitat office.

One of the best things about Habitat for Humanity homes is that applicants don’t just get new homes. In addition to getting a new home, they’re also given important financial education to learn how to manage their money and to be good homeowners. Every step of the Habitat program is geared toward helping the applicant in every way possible. So they’re not just getting a new home, they’re also getting an important set of life skills that they can use forever.

Another good thing about Habitat for Humanity homes is that a person or family in need can actually help build or renovate their home. This is a great way for the recipient or recipients of a new home to help pay for the work that Habitat is doing. For example, if a project is going on in a warm-weather state, a family in need can learn a great deal about air conditioning systems if a local HVAC company is involved. They can learn how to properly maintain their system and know what warnings signs to watch out for in the event of trouble. It also allows them to take an active role in their future. This is yet another opportunity to learn important life skills that they can use to do some of their own home improvement projects.

Home Education

Habitat for Humanity projects obviously include a lot of home building and renovations, but the projects are about more than that. The projects also provide education about housing problems and what can be done to solve them.

For those looking for more information about Habitat for Humanity, there is an online education portal called Habitat Learns. This program teaches folks about important home renovations in home building, but it also focuses on educating people about the causes of housing problems, how many people have housing problems, and housing problems around the world. In addition to teaching folks about all of these ongoing issues, Habitat Learns also provides opportunities for people to help out.

Working With Habitat For Humanity

Through the years, many people have found volunteering with Habitat for Humanity to be fulfilling, fast-paced, and fun. There are many ways to get involved with Habitat for Humanity as well. If you work for a cooling and heating company, for example, you can pitch in on projects around your community with water heater installation as well as water heater financing.

By volunteering with your local Habitat, for example, you can be a part of the change that you want to see in your community both in the short-term and long-term. Many local Habitats offer opportunities to repair and build homes with families, and also offer volunteer work opportunities at Habitat ReStore locations.

If you’ve heard about Habitat for Humanity and you’re looking to contribute to a community project, you can prepare yourself with these tips:

Have A Great Attitude

Most of the time, the only thing that’s asked of any Habitat volunteers is a great attitude and a willingness to be flexible. Projects try to be very specific about beginning and ending times, as well as lunch breaks. Volunteers are encouraged to dress for the weather and try to avoid wearing anything that can contribute to an accident. Whether you are a first-time volunteer or a repeat volunteer, the folks working on Habitat projects will appreciate your willingness to work and contribute. If you’re new to Habitat projects, chances are good you’ll pick up some new skills along the way and maybe even make some new friends.

Be Ready To Learn

You don’t need to be a jack-of-all-trades to participate in a Habitat for Humanity project. With a positive attitude and willingness to learn, you can make an impact the same as any other volunteer on a project. Some folks start volunteering with no knowledge of how to even swing a hammer or with no knowledge of construction skills. But they are welcomed into the project because volunteer help is appreciated, and if they volunteer many times, they’ll learn new skills. Volunteers also should not be afraid to ask questions. It’s never wrong to admit when you don’t know something, and volunteers are always willing to answer your questions and help you in any way they can.

The Work Of Volunteers

Habitat helps folks all across the nation and all over the world. But their success wouldn’t be possible without the tireless work of volunteers who care about helping people, and care about giving something back to their communities. If you are one such person who wants to help solve housing issues, working on a Habitat project is one of the best ways to do so. It doesn’t matter if you and a group of volunteers are expert roofers or you can do a simple garage door installation, every little bit that you work on a house gets a person in need one step closer to having a brand new home.

One of the best things about Habitat for Humanity is that they do offer full-time careers, so if you have the time and want to put in the dedication to the work, you can work with Habitat as a full-time job. If you do so, you might have opportunities to travel all over the world, and more importantly, you’d be doing as much as you can to give back.

But make no mistake, there are plenty of opportunities for those who can’t contribute full-time. Habitat actually has volunteer opportunities to fit the needs of anyone who truly wants to help. Habitat volunteers don’t just help with home building. Some volunteers may be building contractors or HVAC contractors in their everyday careers, but they can also help find materials, organize people, and whatever else is needed to see a project all the way through to completion. For example, if a dumpster is needed to clear away debris during a project, volunteers can organize dumpster rentals and make sure that they’re there when the project begins.

One of the other great things about Habitat for Humanity is that they offer projects that work with groups of specific people. As an example, habitat has many youth programs where young folks can get involved, contribute to their community, and receive housing.

Habitat also has a Veterans Build program, which is designed specifically to build homes for veterans or families of veterans in need. Veterans have given the ultimate sacrifice to protect their country, and there’s no doubt that many of them have had tough lives. Fortunately, Habitat does everything it can to help provide shelter for them to stay in.

Another specific volunteer project group is Women Build. This works with the same idea as Veterans Build, but focuses on women. This offers a chance for women to take an active role in their future, give something back to the community where they live, and empower themselves by helping both themselves and others who may be in need.

If you’re unable to work for Habitat full-time, or volunteer, a donation is always accepted by Habitat. There’s no question that home renovations cost money. In fact, total U.S. home improvement expenditure was estimated to amount to $394 billion in 2018 alone and many people took out a construction loan to get their projects done. As such, Habitat is always happy to accept donations to fund projects for those who are in need of housing.

A Cause We Can All Rally Behind

Habitat for Humanity projects have helped thousands of people over the years and there’s no doubt that they are needed. Hopefully, there may be a day when widespread housing shortages and other issues are solved. But until then, the work of Habitat for Humanity remains a vital service to the communities they serve.

No matter what’s going on in the world, Habitat continues to provide homes to folks in need and to provide opportunities for others to help, whether politicians want to get involved or electricians want to get involved.

In summary, Habitat for Humanity not only provides homes for people in need, but it helps the people who are in need of housing to take an active role in building their homes as well as shaping their future. Thousands of people benefit from Habitat for Humanity because of the volunteer efforts that are provided and thousands of people the world over are helped because every Habitat project is an important step toward ending the issue of homelessness.

Now that you’ve read about Habitat for Humanity, maybe you’re thinking you want to give back. As you have read, there are many ways that you can do that. You can check out Habitat Learns to educate yourself about the issues facing people dealing with homelessness, and you can visit your local Habitat office to learn more about what volunteer opportunities might be available. You might work for an HVAC installation company and work for a month with Habitat installing and maintaining HVAC systems. You might be a volunteer for a few hours on the weekends. Either way, the time you provide helps spread positivity in your community and goes a long way toward helping those in need.