Habitat for Humanity: A true force multiplier

Peoria Pro Tem Vicki Hunt and the Sinclair family during the June dedication.

Homeownership was always a dream, but never a possibility for the Sinclair family. It was when they moved to Arizona to help a sick family member that their search for affordable housing brought them to Habitat for Humanity. Two years later they moved into their new, two-story home in Peoria.

In recent years, Builder Magazine ranked Habitat for Humanity as the No. 1 private home builder in its annual listing of the largest U.S. builders. Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona has completed more than 3,000 new homes in Maricopa and Pinal counties. In Peoria, 74 families have found new housing through Habitat’s unique program model. Just about every one of those new homes is in the Acacia District.

When I was introduced to Habitat as I came on to city council years ago, a wise leader in their organization advised that what Habitat does is not a hand out — it is a hand up toward self-reliance. The organization’s mission to bring together homes, communities and hope has been alive and well in Peoria for several decades. Some of the 74 Habitat-built homes in Peoria are bunched together into tight-knit neighborhoods. Others, like the Sinclair residence, are individual homes built within existing neighborhoods.

Three pieces have to be in place for any Habitat development project to thrive. Funding for land as well as the “sticks and bricks” has to be in place.  Volunteers have to come together to “raise the roof.” Finally, a family willing to commit to the educational and sweat equity agreement has to be in place.

Habitat leverages funding provided by national companies such Lowe’s, Amazon, Wells Fargo, State Farm and American Express. With seed funding in place, Habitat makes cost-conscious purchases of land, and then procures construction supplies. Habitat homes are built to the highest standard.  Energy efficiency and water conservation are at the center of building plans, which means new homeowners can save rather than spend.

Mobilizing volunteers through churches, philanthropic organizations and local businesses, Habitat oversees a construction process that makes the most of the community’s resources. Build days on construction sites require 60 to 75 volunteers per session. The volunteers build with Habitat construction staff guidance.

Using sweat equity, a qualifying family makes a down payment with up to 400 sweat-equity hours in building their own homes. After move-in, the family pays for their home by way of a no-profit loan. Qualifying families must attend mandatory workshops aimed at success in homeownership, and they must pay all closing costs before move-in.

I am thrilled and very proud of the Habitat-built homes in the Acacia District and across our city. These partnerships between families and the community will pay dividends for years to come.