With the goal of addressing the historic lack of housing supply, Habitat for Humanity International is continually hard at work. In the last three years, Habitat has built more than 8,000 new homes in partnership with families across the U.S. In 2022 alone, the nonprofit improved housing conditions for more than 7.1 million people around the world.
This accomplishment is admirable considering the pandemic, material delays, and the rising costs that the home building industry has faced in recent years. “Although we had to pause many facets of our work and operations at the onset of the global pandemic, it gave us the opportunity to reflect on how we can meaningfully address the historic housing supply shortage in the U.S. and around the world,” says Jonathan Reckford, CEO, Habitat for Humanity International.
“Post-COVID, we continue to grow our programs in housing microfinance and other lending solutions, in addition to exploring new technologies that will allow us to build more sustainable and less expensive homes for the families with whom we partner around the globe.”
Partnerships and donations keep Habitat homes under construction so that more deserving families can achieve equitable homeownership. Last spring, philanthropist Mackenzie Scott gifted $436 million to Habitat. Habitat for Humanity International plans to use its $25 million portion to fundamentally increase the supply of affordable housing and prioritize advocacy and programmatic efforts.
In Houston, construction has begun at Robins Landing, a master plan that will provide 100 affordable homes for low-income Houstonians earning 80% or less of the area median income (AMI). After securing $33 million in 2021, Houston Habitat for Humanity began preparing necessary infrastructure on the 127-acre site.
The first of five phases includes 84 homes, 18 of those being Houston Habitat builds. “When we started envisioning what could be possible for this land in 2014, it was important to us that we design something that could truly address the affordability crisis and serve as a model that could be replicated across the country,” says Allison Hay, executive director of Houston Habitat for Humanity.
“This meant building more than just homes—it meant creating a community with resources and partnerships to uplift residents and inspire families to plant roots. We are ecstatic to be reaching this milestone as our vision for Robins Landing becomes a reality.”
While continuing to raise $10 million from philanthropy, Houston Habitat plans for above-ground features to ensure long-term affordability, sustainability, and resiliency. The funding will develop a 12-acre central park with access to hike-and-bike trails, a neighborhood resilience hub, lot preparation, and resilience for Houston Habitat homes.
Houston Habitat is also collaborating with community partners to develop a town center with essential services and amenities. The remaining homes in phases two through four, to reach a total of 450, will be built and sold by partner builders CastleRock Communities and Chesmar Homes. Three hundred are reserved for individuals whose income is no more than 120% of the AMI.
In New York, communities like the Jay Orchard Street Area Neighborhood Association (JOSANA) in Rochester has seen 100 new homes built since 2011 because of volunteers, material and monetary donations, and partnerships. Greater Rochester Habitat for Humanity continues its work with home repairs in the JOSANA neighborhood and revitalization projects in the nearby EMMA and Beechwood neighborhoods.
Volunteers play key roles in the revitalization and improvement of these homes. Following the pandemic, Habitat’s approach to volunteer participation has shifted as new ways of engagement had to be created. “While in-person volunteering was briefly suspended, we found new ways for individuals to volunteer and engage with our mission. Now, people can continue to make a difference in their communities virtually and on the build site,” Reckford shares.
Contributing to the cause can take many forms as the seventh annual Home is the Key campaign is underway this month. Three of Habitat’s cause marketing partners are providing financial support, product promotions, and their voices to raise awareness. At Home will donate 100% of proceeds to Habitat from the sale of its Habitat for Humanity Gifts that Give Back, while Kum & Go has pledged a minimum of $500,000 to support Habitat this year. For every Kum & Go branded bottle of water sold in April, 10 cents will be donated.
Resideo Technologies will donate $50 to Habitat for every Honeywell Home Smart thermostat sold, up to $250,000. HGTV and iHeart Media have also partnered to share key messages through all media channels.
Throughout April, Habitat for Humanity International also is partnering with Habitat for Humanity Detroit to hold several neighborhood revitalization projects in the Morningside neighborhood, where the nonprofit has renovated or repaired more than 150 homes over the past 15 years. At Home, Kum & Go, and Resideo employees are donating their time to volunteer for the projects that will conclude with a community block party to celebrate the completion while highlighting sustainability and community resilience on Earth Day, April 22.
As Habitat for Humanity turns its focus to more sustainable builds, local affiliates throughout the U.S. are getting creative. In Sacramento, SunPower is energizing a first-of-its-kind, all-electric, solar-powered affordable housing community for low-income families in partnership with Mutual Housing California and Habitat for Humanity of Greater Sacramento.
Donating 140 panels, SunPower’s contribution will help offset the energy costs of 13 of the 18 homes to be built in the Cornerstone community. The panels are expected to save an estimated $1,500 annually for each homeowner. A grant through SunPower Foundation also will support the design, permitting, and installation.
"The climate is changing, and so must our homes and how we build them," says Leah Miller, CEO for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Sacramento. "We strive to create homes that are durable, healthy, and sustainable. Thanks to SunPower and Good Sun, we can make a positive impact in the community we serve with low-cost, clean energy."
A step in a more affordable direction, Habitat for Humanity’s efforts to electrify the homes will further the affordability for homeowners as the cost of living and energy prices continue to increase.