Habitat for Humanity International is a respected nonprofit which helps communities build affordable housing and shelters. However, many may be unaware of what exactly the organization does. Mark Collier, host of The Playbook on the Atlanta Small Business Network, sits down with Alan Ferguson, Sr., President and CEO of Atlanta Habitat for Humanity, to discuss the organization’s vision and past.
The nonprofit has roughly 1,100 affiliates, including the Atlanta branch, which provide housing, home repair and family services to those in need. Habitat for Humanity has other, lesser-known programs, such as financial literacy education, business training and household management classes, in addition to development projects expanding the number of people it can help. It also requires its prospective tenants to take a rigorous, 12-month homebuyers course, equipping them with the knowledge needed to be successful owners. Those who pass will be able to purchase their property with a minuscule deposit, and a 0% mortgage.
However, the assistance doesn’t stop after the house is sold. The organization’s primary goal is to fuel sustained community growth, which requires continued support. Ferguson explains that his team stays in touch with homeowners throughout their life, putting them in touch with resources when difficulties arise. Interested buyers are also given entrepreneurship guidance, and even access to business grants, after their purchase, so that they can bring more money into their neighborhoods and launch lucrative companies.
Although the organization is well-known, and promoted by recognizable figures such as former President Jimmy Carter, there are many challengers in the nonprofit space providing similar assistance. However, Ferguson notes that Habitat for Humanity is unique in offering housing solutions for those in poverty, serving demographics who make an average income of $30,000. Despite the expense of land development and construction, it uses its donations and volunteer network to keep material and labor costs down, which has allowed it to stay ahead of the competition for roughly 40 years.
Rising mortgages, supply chain complications and interest rates are undeniably creating a global housing crisis. In the U.K., for example, house prices are at their highest since 1901. For many, increasingly burdensome costs of living have decreased social mobility, financially locking individuals in place by preventing them from growing capital. While the core issues run deeper than basic supply and demand, Habitat for Humanity is more helpful than ever to those impacted by economic difficulties, helping them escape their predicament and improve their communities. Those in Atlanta looking to make a contribution or volunteer can visit the nonprofit’s website.
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