Want to help build a better future for children? Homeownership provides one of the strongest foundations. Several studies suggest that homeownership has a powerful positive impact on family health, stability and overall quality of life. But for low-income families, the American dream can seem a long way off.
Homeownership catch-22: What is sacrificed
Research demonstrates that housing instability – frequent moves, overcrowding and threats of eviction or foreclosure – creates stress, depression and hopelessness for families.
And stressors are many. Studies of affordable housing typically focus on the shortage of rental units. That shortage is driven in part by the shortfall of affordable homes to buy. The National Association of Realtors reports the median price of a U.S. house in May 2018 was $264,800.1 That's an increase of more than 20% over the median price just four years earlier.
Low-income families struggling to pay bills and meet their household budgets can't spare the money needed for a down payment – or for maintaining their house or mortgage payments if they are able to buy. According to Habitat for Humanity, more than half of the adults surveyed state they took second jobs, cut back on health care and healthy food, and moved to less safe neighborhoods prior to participating in Habitat's homeownership program.
For families to benefit from home ownership, then, homes have to be truly affordable. To meet that need, Habitat for Humanity is building affordable homes – as well as stability.
How homeownership is accomplished
Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit Christian housing ministry that works with low-income families to create decent, safe and affordable housing. Habitat partners with families who generally earn between 30% and 80% of an area's median income. Families then purchase their Habitat homes with an affordable mortgage. Families invest between 200 and 500 sweat equity hours to help build their own homes and other Habitat homes. Habitat's services include new construction, repairs to existing homes, and small loans for incremental building and home improvements.
In addition to building affordable homes, Habitat also prepares people for homeownership. It provides one-on-one financial coaching, homeownership education and mortgage payment plans. Habitat doesn't just help people buy homes. Its mission also includes helping people keep their homes.
Bringing home the benefits: What is gained
Numerous studies show there's a strong correlation between homeownership and a home-owning family's quality of life. For instance, in 2015, Wilder Research and Habitat for Humanity of Minnesota surveyed more than 200 Twin Cities homeowners living in homes they helped build through Habitat programs.2 Among the findings:
- 68% said their kids' grades improved, and 77% reported an improvement in their study habits.
- 75% spend more quality time with family.
- 80% feel their kids are safer.
"Habitat for Humanity is about so much more than houses," says Chris Coleman, president and CEO of Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity. "Stable, affordable homeownership ripples into every area of a family's life. Kids do better in school, parents have stronger finances, and families are healthier and more connected to their neighbors."
Volunteers make homeownership happen
Thrivent volunteers share their generosity to help fulfill Habitat's mission. The Thrivent Builds program, launched in 2005, coordinates volunteers who work with Habitat for Humanity to build, rehab or repair more than 400 homes annually in the United States. (There is also an international program, Thrivent Builds Worldwide.) In the Twin Cities region, Thrivent Builds volunteers have helped construct 88 homes and completed 159 home repair projects.
The opportunity to (literally) build a stronger community is what continues to draw Thrivent Builds volunteers to Habitat's work.
Get your hard hat on
- You can put your hands, heart and hammer to work to help build self-reliance. Find out more about domestic and international Thrivent Builds programs.
- Support Habitat for Humanity with a personal donation through an online giving platform offered in partnership with InFaith Community Foundation. All processing fees will be covered by Thrivent so 100% of your donation will go to this important cause.
- Eligible Thrivent members can help build better futures by directing Choice Dollars® to Habitat for Humanity.
Not a member yet? Learn more about why Thrivent is different.
1 Summary of May 2018 Existing Home Sales Statistics (PDF), National Association of Realtors.
2 Impacts of Habitat for Humanity Homeownership, Wilder Research, February 2015.