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VOL. 126 | NO. 65 | Monday, April 4, 2011

Jeremy Park

Building Futures … Literally


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Last week we spotlighted Ballet Memphis, which is raising the artistic bar with masterful performances, like upcoming “Romeo & Juliet.” This week let us explore Habitat for Humanity of Greater Memphis, a nonprofit Christian housing ministry that is helping eliminate substandard housing in and around our community by literally helping families build a new home and path to a brighter future.

Memphis Habitat was founded in 1983 by a group of concerned individuals who were aware of Habitat for Humanity International (founded in 1976 and headquartered in Atlanta and Americus, Ga.), and saw the need for decent, affordable housing in the city. Habitat affiliates are independent, nonprofit organizations and operate with local staff, boards and volunteers. So, volunteers provide most of the labor, and faith-based, corporate and individual donors provide the money, materials and labor necessary to build Habitat homes.

Habitat works in partnership with families in need of adequate shelter to build simple, decent, affordable homes. Homes are sold to partner families at no profit and with no interest charged. Partner families invest hundreds of hours of their own labor – sweat equity – into building their homes and the homes of others. They also contribute a down payment and attend 15 weeks of financial education courses before their homes are built. Homeowner mortgage payments go into a revolving “Fund for Humanity” that is used to build more homes. Since its inception, 366 Habitat homes have been built in Greater Memphis.

Habitat is building 11 homes during its spring build, at a hard cost of approximately $70,000 per home. They are located in Trinity Park, a planned community in Oakhaven, just south of Memphis International Airport. When complete, the community will include 38 homes, sustainable enhancements like landscaped green space and tree-lined walkways, and a resource center. Each home will be built to green standards and meet Memphis Light Gas and Water Division’s EcoBUILD requirements, resulting in a 33 percent energy savings.

The great part about working with Memphis Habitat is there are many ways you can help the effort. Volunteer on a build, in the Habitat office, or at a special event. Join a committee, like the new Women Build committee that is working toward building a house led and sponsored entirely by women and women-owned businesses. Get involved with children and students through Youth United.

Instead of dumping appliances, furniture or building materials, donate them to the Habitat ReStore. Host a Habitat ReStore Donation Drive at your business or church. Learn about the qualifications to become a Habitat homeowner and help connect people to the program. I would be remiss not to mention, you can always look at helping to sponsor one of the homes or consider a financial contribution of some kind.

Learn more by visiting www.memphishabitat.com or contacting Jessica Neal Hord, community relations director, at jneal@memphishabitat.com.

PROPERTY SALES 97 418 8,253
MORTGAGES 112 508 9,293
BUILDING PERMITS 194 1,059 18,126
BANKRUPTCIES 46 208 5,367