Affordable housing is a means to an end, not an end in itself. “Building More Than a House” is Habitat for Humanity’s goal in addressing the growing need for affordable housing, and creating safe, sustainable and welcoming neighborhoods. Each simple, decent, well-constructed and affordable house we build opens a door for a Habitat homeowner to have a more successful family life in a healthier, more stable community.
Home prices are simply out of reach for many families, yet studies show that homeownership plays a significant role in the social and financial stability of our communities. The disparity between income and Connecticut housing costs means many local families have to make the difficult choice between crowding into inadequate housing or paying too much of their income for housing.
Children who move often score lower in math and reading, and are more prone to emotional and behavioral problems. According to the U.S. Census, homeowners stay in one location on average twelve years, compared to three years for renters. On average, Hartford Habitat families remain in their homes for 10-15 years. In comparison, the average Hartford student relocates every two years. Recent Hartford Habitat statistics say that 82 percent of our homeowners’ children completed high school, 39 percent completed a college degree or vocational program, and 29 percent are enrolled in a college or vocational school. In addition, 27 percent of our homeowners have completed a college degree or vocational training since moving into their homes.
Healthy communities offer housing for families at all income levels. Without diverse housing options, workers may be forced to live far from their jobs, which leads to increased transportation costs and more difficulty getting to work. In addition, studies show that homeowners are much more likely to maintain their homes than renters, as well as participate in their community. Fifty-five percent of Hartford Habitat homeowners say that they are involved in community organizations, 82 percent voted in the last election, 58 percent maintain a garden, and all homeowners pay their fair share of property taxes.
The positive impact of homeownership is clear for the more that 200 working families with whom Hartford Habitat has partnered, as well as for the neighborhoods they now call home.
Donald H. Shaw, Jr. is a member of the Board of Directors and chair of Community & Faith Relations at Hartford Area Habitat for Humanity
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