Habitat for Humanity launches affordable housing campaign “Cost of Home”



Median price of house is at $210,000





Elizabeth Glynn, CEO of Travois and Habitat KC board member, stated at a press conference in mid-June, “Habitat for Humanity joins 200 Habitat organizations across the country to launch a new advocacy campaign aimed at improving affordability for 10 million people across the United States for the next 5 years.”



BY DEBRA DeCOSTER


Owning a home is an American dream for families, but when the average cost for homes has risen to around $200,000 price range, the dream for many families are gone. Families are being forced to choose between paying for housing or nutritious food, reliable transportation or healthcare needs.


One out of every six families are spending half their income or even more to pay their rent or mortgage.


In mid-June, Habitat for Humanity in Kansas City joined with other Habitat for Humanity organizations across the United States to launch a national advocacy campaign, Cost of Home.


Elizabeth Glynn, CEO of Travois and Habitat KC board member, stated at a press conference, “affordable housing is a passion of mine. We are excited to announce a nation wide campaign Cost of Home. Habitat for Humanity joins 200 Habitat organizations across the country to launch an advocacy campaign aimed at improving affordability for 10 million people across the United States for the next five years.”


Over the next 5 years, Habitat for Humanity and its partners will work to improve home affordability by promoting policy and systems change in four key areas: supply and preservation of affordable homes, access to credit, land use and communities of opportunity.


Since 1979, Habitat of Kansas City has built or renovated over 700 homes. It is a non-profit Christian-based organization working to fulfill the dream of home ownership for low-medium income families in the Kansas City metropolitan community.


Pat Turner, President and CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Kansas City, said, “We are really trying to be the voice for affordable housing and educating our stake holders to help us make a dent in this housing crisis across the country. Nearly 19 million households across the United States spend at least half of their income on a place to live, often forgoing basic necessities such as food and health care to make ends meet. That is unacceptable!”


According to Habitat for Humanity, ‘a home shouldn’t cost you going hungry. A home shouldn’t cost you your children’s education. When the cost of home is overwhelming families’ budgets and shattering families’ futures, that’s something none of us can afford.’


The Cost of Home campaign seeks to improve policies and systems through coordinated advocacy efforts at the local, state and federal levels.


“We know when families with children can come home to that same house every day, it makes a difference. Many families in our communities are evicted from their homes or rental properties because of the high cost and these children do not know where they will be day to day. That causes both mental and physical effects, they are not interested in school and why should they be when they don’t know if they are going to be in that school tomorrow. When we provide them the stability of decent affordable housing, we have just given them hope to build a better community that we will all benefit from,” said Turner.


Joining their voice in the advocacy campaign, the House of Abraham initiative works to promote interfaith dialogue and cooperation among area faith communities. Established in 2003 by the Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities of the Kansas City metropolitan area, their committee built one house every other year, but since 2018 they have been working with Habitat and are committed to building or renovating one home for a Habitat family every year.


“Currently there is an alarming trend –a median house is at $210,000 and at the same time a median income is only at $45,000. If you do the math on that, that is not a sustainable way to go and keep affordable housing. Over the past 40 years, Habitat has been invested in building homes and renovating homes. We have seen in Kansas City, Missouri during the political campaigns, the issue of affordable housing. Habitat along with the House of Abraham will campaign and do everything we can to ensure that there is affordable housing for families in both Kansas and Missouri,” said Saleem Rasheed with House of Abraham.


He added, “families need affordable and adequate housing. We know that if someone doesn’t have a place to call home, it can be difficult to keep a job, it is difficult for children and their education. I stand with Habitat and their advocacy campaign and I will do everything that I can to help push this forward.”


Edgar Galicia, Director of Central Avenue Betterment Association (CABA), likes the work that Habitat for Humanity is doing for low-income families and that they have launch an advocacy program, but he feels that changing the future for low-income families doesn’t stop just at affordable housing.


“Affordable housing is a very strong foundation for prosperity and we need to start there, but affordable housing is not going to fix the problems that low income families face. Giving them shelter means giving them stability. With shelter should come programming, giving them the education and tools to grow their financial stability. It is proven that a human being can developed farther under stable living quarters than in a unstable life structure,” he said.


According to Galicia, he would like to see families be able to move into affordable homes in their communities, which in turn, would help benefit businesses. As Habitat and other organizations advocate for changes to help these families build their lives towards a better future, he would like to see the initiative taken farther and help to educate the families in managing finances, how to seek employment and what do they need to help find employment.


“My dream or vision would be that Habitat build a house that could be a modular unit. As the income of the family prospers, they can build a new room or a bigger kitchen within the same property, so that their house evolves with their own financial growth,” he said.