Habitat for Humanity needs a lot (literally)

By Bob Buckel | Published Saturday, February 2, 2013

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The American dream of home ownership has taken a real beating the last few years.

People who were buying homes, or planning to, instead found themselves laid off, struggling just to put food on the table or pay for gas. Renting became their only option.

Bob Buckel

Bob Buckel

Others, thanks to easy credit and an abundance of houses, bought their dream homes only to find, when times got tough, that they were “upside-down” in their mortgages – their houses were not worth what they owed on them, and even if they tried to sell, no one was buying. They either stopped paying and got foreclosed on, or just walked away, losing their equity and their credit.

That sad scenario played out thousands of times, from coast to coast.

Many factors can conspire to strip away someone’s dreams – illness, injury, layoff or loss. That’s why I’m such a fan of Habitat for Humanity. They’re in the business of building dreams.

Habitat carefully screens for needy families that qualify for the assistance they provide. The folks who meet those rigorous standards are truly in need, and they are willing to work to get the keys to a house they can afford.

Habitat finds the homeowners, provides the professional expertise, supplies the design, engineering and takes care of the legal matters, then – with experienced builders supervising everything – rallies community volunteers to build a solid, modest house, using donated materials.

After investing hundreds of hours of their own sweat equity, the family moves in with an interest-free mortgage payment that goes back into Habitat’s trust fund and is used to build another house for another deserving family.

And just like that, someone is out of a rent house, out of a mobile home, out of an apartment and raising their kids with a roof, walls and a yard, in a neighborhood that got better when they moved in. They hold jobs, pay taxes, send their kids to school, shop at local stores and grow with their community.

And the American dream is reborn, one homeowner at a time.

Habitat for Humanity International is a faith-based organization, whose mission is “Building homes and hope in partnership with God’s people.” They have more than 1,500 affiliates in the U.S. and 550 in foreign countries. Since its founding in 1976, Habitat has built more than 500,000 quality, affordable homes for over 2.5 million people.

Trinity Habitat for Humanity, based in Fort Worth, is one of the biggest and busiest in the entire organization. They build and rehabilitate homes in Johnson, Parker, Tarrant and Wise counties, and they want to do even more in Wise County – particularly in Decatur – but they need a lot.

If you own, or know of, a lot that would be affordable and a suitable spot for a Habitat house, email Sponsor Relations Manager J.C. Burch (Jc.burch@trinity habitat.org) or call him at 817-578-6174. Sometimes vacant lots have been in families for generations, just sitting there, doing no one any good. Habitat can take a property you’ve been paying taxes on, put a nice home on it and help someone’s dream come true.

Of special interest are lots that may have been foreclosed on by banks or seized by governmental entities for back taxes. Habitat can take it off your books, pay the taxes, build on it and put it back on the tax rolls.

Call J.C., too, if you’d like to donate to this worthy cause, which is supported by the United Way and thousands of other donors.

And when he finds the lot and gets the money together, if you’re interested in swinging a hammer or a paintbrush, that can also be arranged.

Habitat for Humanity is, simply put, one of the best ideas ever conceived by man. The value of an affordable home goes far beyond dollars, and it has impacted and continues to impact the lives of millions – including some here who already live in Habitat homes.

In return, Habitat doesn’t ask for a lot.

Just a lot. Or two, or three, or …

Bob Buckel is executive editor of the Wise County Messenger.

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