Depending on last-minute construction details, as many as 70 “Habitat for Humanity” homes will have been built in Iowa this past year. There are 36 Habitat for Humanity affiliates in Iowa, according to Mark Elliott, who is with the Greater Des Moines Habitat for Humanity.

Elliott says the homes themselves aren’t what’s important. “The numbers that are important aren’t how many houses we built but how many lives we change and how many of these families succeed in taking this opportunity to break the cycle of poverty to lift themselves and their children to a brighter future,” he says. The families who move into Habitat homes must donate their own “sweat equity,” too, but helping to build the structure.

The low-income families must show they can pay the 20-year, no-interest mortgage on the home. “We don’t give them the home,” he says. “They purchase it for the land and material cost.” In addition, the home owner must not only contribute that “sweat equity” but they have to complete a Habitat for Humanity course which Elliott says prepares them to succeed as a home owner. How many volunteers participated in building Habitat homes in Iowa this year?

“Quite literally thousands,” he says. “As a matter of fact, in Des Moines only this year we have enlisted over 7,000 volunteers in our projects.” The average project takes about six months to complete.
“Some take longer than that in some of the smaller and more rural affiliates,” Elliott says. “Of course in Des Moines, we’re occasionally off and trying to build one in seven days.” That has happened twice in the past two years.

A Habitat for Humanity home was built on the Iowa State Fairgrounds in 2005. This past spring, a Habitat house was built a the parking lot near the state capitol and later towed, then placed on a foundation in a neighborhood nearby. Elliott says each Habitat for Humanity chapter enlists not only individuals but groups to help complete the homes. “They’re helping to build their local community,” he says.

“Habitat is uniquely local and tangible philanthropy. It’s a great way for people to get involved in changing the lives of people in their local community and at the same time helping to build that community.” Find more information about Habitat for Humanity on-line at www.habitat.org.

Related web sites:
Habbitat for Humanity