Imagine a single mother raising three children, including one who is disabled, and her sixteen-year-old sister. This mother works hard to pay her rent for a house that is cramped and uncomfortable for her family of four. On top of all of this, she also has three roommates who live with her family to help pay the rent. These eight people are confined to living in a two-bedroom apartment. This family is part of the unfortunate population living in substandard housing seen all over the world.
Laurel Hill Center located in Eugene, Oregon, defines substandard housing by stating if the housing, “endangers the health, safety, or well being of a family in its present condition.”
According to thriventbuilds.com, “in America alone, 95 million people experience housing problems, including cost burden, overcrowding, poor housing quality, and homelessness.”
Not only are these families living in these conditions, but according to the website, the government is not even helping those in need.
It was also reported, “of the 30 million households with housing problems, 14.5 million qualify for government aid, yet only 4.1 million are actually receiving any.”
One option that these families have to escape from these buildings and into homes that are suitable for living, is to turn to an organization that tries to eliminate substandard housing, Habitat for Humanity.
Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit, international organization dedicated to eliminating substandard housing and to making adequate, affordable shelter a matter of conscience and action.
The Habitat for Humanity website says that “through volunteer labor and donations of money and materials, Habitat builds and rehabilitates simple, decent houses alongside our homeowner (partner) families.”
These homeowner families help volunteers work to build their new house. The families’ finances include a down payment along with affordable loans for their new house. Their monthly mortgage payments go toward Habitat, which will then be used to build more houses for families in poverty.
Although Habitat partakes in international projects, chapters can range anywhere from college campuses to counties or national committees. Each “affiliate” is responsible for their own fundraising and decision making on families and the building within their own community.
These Habitat affiliates act as part of Habitat International but run independently, such as West Chester University’s own club.
Through volunteer work, West Chester University’s Habitat for Humanity attributes hours upon hours into different builds, which also provides a great opportunity for community service. The University’s Habitat for Humanity is also teamed with Chester County’s Habitat in building houses for our own community.
The current project that these chapters are working on is a house on Poplar Street.
Habitat for Humanity has changed many people’s lives all over the world. West Chester University’s Habitat for Humanity website reports that in this year alone, Habitat for Humanity International has built 300,000 houses around the world.
The website restorenova.org provided an interview with their featured family who is currently under a house transformation.
In this interview, Victor, a single father of two sons, said “People don’t realize how difficult it is raising three children on your own, which makes this even more special for my family. We are truly grateful for this opportunity.”
Not only is Habitat beneficial to the families being provided with new housing, but it also greatly impacts the volunteers.
Rachel Biltz, a member of West Chester University’s Habitat club, feels that taking part in these builds is so rewarding for the mere fact of seeing the families’ reactions and changed lives.
One of the most beneficial aspects of Habitat for Humanity is the fact that there are local affiliates in areas near us.
West Chester University’s Habitat for Humanity is always looking for new members and volunteers. To become involved with this organization, you can go to a weekly meeting, which takes place every Wednesday at 7:15 p.m. in Sykes Student Union, room 257, to discuss current builds, future builds, and fundraisers to help obtain money for their organization, which in turn is used towards their builds.
Habitat for Humanity achieves countless goals to better our community and make a difference every day.
Aimee Sitch is a first year student. She can be reached at AS718072@wcupa.edu.