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I have known about Habitat for Humanity for a long time but did not really learn about it until last week when I put my minimal interior painting skills to good use.

Habitat for Humanity is commonly known as a charitable organization that builds homes for people. The construction leader explained a few things about the entity that are contrary to popular belief. The homes are not built for the homeless or destitute individuals. To qualify as a beneficiary, the family income must be a certain percentage of the family income considered necessary to live in the area. Additional requirements include 400 hours of unpaid labor on the project and the commitment to volunteer for future habitat projects to help new families coming into the program. So the community service is self-perpetuating.

The home is not free. The house I worked in was built on a property in foreclosure that Habitat purchased. The family needs to pay a mortgage that is interest free and requires no down payment. The idea is to offer ownership for the about the same monthly expense as rent. The recipient of this particular house is a two-income family with a toddler. Habitat owns the mortgage, so they need to follow lending regulations and maintain qualified lender status. The payments help Habitat purchase properties, and they assume the risk if someone defaults.

Though most of the workers are volunteers, some labor is paid such as for licensed plumbers and electricians. Volunteers include employees of corporations giving back to the community such as myself, retirees and students. Our construction leader’s background was in corporate finance, a lifelong do-it-yourself man looking for a way to spend his time in retirement.

According to the regional Habitat website, criteria may vary from one community to the next, but the overall concept is that the organization’s goal is to “provide a hand up…not a hand out.” I like that.

By the way, I was told one of the family members is a professional painter. Hope he likes my work.☺️

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