By John Nolan
Habitat for Humanity leaders like to say that Habitat houses can provide stability for families who buy and live in those homes. A joint study by Habitat for Humanity of Greater Cincinnati and the affiliated Eastside Coalition of Churches gives support for that belief.
The study found that, of 58 families who helped build and then purchased Habitat homes built by Eastside volunteers from 1997 to 2018, 52 of the families (90 percent) are still living in those dwellings.
In three of the 58 cases, the home buyer has died. Two of the houses have been sold by the original home buyer. In the remaining case, the homeowner no longer lives in the house, for reasons that Habitat’s researcher was unable to determine.
Carliss Green, 55, who gave an interview to Habitat about her home buying experience, said that becoming a first-time homeowner in 2005 through Habitat’s program changed her life for the better.
“It’s made me feel like I established myself in life,” she said. “I provided for my children, you know — even with my grandson, I have a place for him to come and play and hang out. It just made me a better person overall, with motivating me to continue to move forward in life.”
Ms. Green said she went back to school to obtain a collegiate bachelor’s degree. She has three grown children and has been employed for 19 years at an addiction treatment center, where she now serves as a manager of information services.
The goal of Habitat for Humanity affiliates in this country and overseas is to get families into decent, affordable housing. Habitat puts a priority on thoroughly insulating the houses, to help reduce the energy bills of families so that they will have more money for short-term needs and longer-term purposes such as children’s programs and college savings.
Habitat’s leaders have often said that the stability of home ownership — having a permanent place to call your own — helps families to focus on the futures of children who will grow up in those dwellings. That includes education, athletics, music programs and getting ready for the world of work.
Habitat requires prospective homeowners to work at least 250 ”sweat equity” hours on their houses, or in other jobs for Habitat, as a down payment on a no-interest mortgage loan to buy the home. Homeowners must also provide records to show at least three years of prior continuing income, and must complete courses that Habitat offers as preparation for home ownership responsibilities.
Carliss Green said she encourages others to apply to be considered for a Habitat home.
She still recalls the experience of helping to build her house, and of working with people she hadn’t previously known who showed up to join in the construction and encourage her along the way.
“To have all the volunteers that volunteered to help — even my boss helped,” she said. “It was truly an inspiration. It really motivated me to know that if you stay fast in doing what needs to be done, and moving forward in your life, anything is possible.”