Habitat for Humanity, often known as just "Habitat," is a global non-profit housing organization that was designed to build decent and affordable homes for people and families in need. It relies heavily on volunteer service and is very active in Alamance County. Habitat for Humanity of Alamance County works closely with the Habitat chapter at Elon University, and in addition to providing a significant number of volunteers, the chapter is able to fund an entire house annually through fundraising, and is on its 25th house as of early 2017.
Habitat for Humanity International
Habitat for Humanity is truly global, and works in more than 70 countries and 1,400 communities in total around the world. Contrary to common perception, Habitat does not "give" people houses; instead, it builds affordable, environmentally friendly homes for people and families, who then pay off the house with "sweat equity" (working on other houses) and a zero-interest mortgage financed by Habitat for Humanity. The organization, while Christian, does not discriminate on the basis of race or religion, and only evaluates applicants with three criteria:
- The applicant’s level of need.
- Their willingness to partner with Habitat.
- Their ability to repay a mortgage through an affordable payment plan.
Habitat for Humanity of Alamance County
Alamance County is deeply affected by housing insecurity and hunger insecurity, according to the North Carolina Justice Center's "Economic Snapshot" of the county. 51.6% of the renters in the county cannot afford their rent. To afford a modest two-bedroom apartment (meaning paying less than 30% of income) with a minimum wage job, the renter would have to work 74 hours a week. In addition, many of the current housing laws in Alamance County enable landlords to keep their property at a less-than livable state (with mold and heating problems) because the properties never technically change owners (a change of ownership would require health inspections).
Habitat is able to provide a sustainable solution to housing insecurity in Alamance County by, as per the frequently asked questions on their website, "building strength, stability and self-reliance in partnership with people and families in need of a decent and affordable home." In addition to financially freeing people with an affordable mortgage, Habitat makes sure that every family owns a house that is as cheap to live in as possible. Much of the older housing in Alamance County has little energy efficiency, and Habitat is able to address this by having every house audited by an energy company before they finish it, making sure that the house can be heated and cooled as efficiently as possible. In some cases, families that were paying crippling heating bills of over $800 a month only pay $20-30 in heating bills once they move into their Habitat house.
How to Get Involved
Both community members and Elon Students can get involved in volunteering with Habitat of Alamance County! Elon students should email their campus chapter at "firstname.lastname@example.org" and community members should reference the volunteering section of the Habitat of Alamance website in order to volunteer.
Habitat builds can involve everything from building the frame for a house to painting the inside. Elon students participating in the builds usually go on Saturday mornings, with the exception of "Blitz Builds" that take place in January and go all day. Volunteers from the community and different community groups are taken every business day. Habitat Builds take place all throughout Alamance County.
The Habitat ReStore is a thrift store that funds Habitat with its profits and sells donated furniture, furnishings, and building materials at low costs. The ReStore takes volunteers from the community during the week, and Elon Students during on Saturdays. Builds and ReStore opportunities are usually year round, and opportunities are available to Elon students throughout the school year. The ReStore service opportunities take place at both the Burlington and the Mebane ReStores.
The Elon chapter of Habitat runs several fundraisers and profit shares during the school year. These fundraisers vary from crowdfunding efforts to large-effort Build-a-thons that take place over a day. The profit shares take place at local restaurants, such as Red Bowl. You can donate to Habitat of Alamance online at any time.
Economic Snapshot for Alamance County. (2016, March). Retrieved February 06, 2017, from http://www.ncjustice.org/
Frequently Asked Questions. (n.d.). Retrieved February 06, 2017, from http://www.habitat.org/about/faq
Volunteer With Habitat. (n.d.). Retrieved February 06, 2017, from http://habitatalamance.org/get-involved/volunteer/