A common misperception of Central MN Habitat for Humanity (CMHFH) is that they “give away” their houses to poor people. “Not true. Habitat for Humanity builds houses to help those in need and then sells the houses to the homeowner partners. After completing 200 hours of ‘sweat equity,’ taking 15+ hours of homeowner and financial wellness classes, and serving as an active ambassador and partner with CMHFH, accepted applicants purchase a home with a low-interest mortgage with manageable monthly payments limited to no more than 30% of their total household income. This “hand up” helps break the cycle of poverty and creates a win-win for Habitat homeowners and the surrounding community.” explained Jessica Dahl, Volunteer Coordinator at CMHFH.
Central MN Habitat for Humanity started building homes in our area in 1989 after eight citizens who were concerned about the lack of decent, affordable housing in the area applied to start a local affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International to serve the needs of families in Central MN. Since then, They’ve built 102 homes in the four-county area and 102 homes in Costa Rica, Paraguay, El Salvador, and Nicaragua.
Community support – whether it be monetary or giving time – is invaluable to CMHFH. “As an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, we are responsible for developing our own financial resources locally. Our building budget is NOT subsidized by dollars provided by Habitat for Humanity International.”
The work doesn’t stop for CMHFH – there’s always something that can be done and a project on the horizon. “We build an average of 3 new homes a year and often also complete a remodel or rehabilitation of an existing home. Our projects in 2021 will include Tiger Build 6 (at Tech High School), Faith Builds (sponsored by Thrivent and local faith communities), and Genesis House (a home donated by the Sisters of St. Benedict in St. Joseph).” CMHFH is also fundraising to develop lots for future builds and anticipates expanding the school build program in 2021-2022 to help educate aspiring construction professionals.
“We care about the community and the people who live here. Housing is considered affordable when it consumes 30% or less of the household gross income. In general, if households are spending more than this on housing, they lack the financial means to cover other basic needs. Improving affordable homeownership leads to greater economic stability, access to quality education, increased civic and social engagement, better health, and reduced environmental footprint.”
Central MN Habitat for Humanity has built over 200 homes in the last 30 years. That work is thanks to a long, long list of amazing volunteers and community contributions. And, it’s something to celebrate! CMHFH is celebrating the work of volunteers, donors, and supporters during the Spotlight on Gratitude virtual event the week of February 8th. Then, this Friday the 12th, the event will close with an evening driving tour of the three homes built in 2020. Each home will be beautifully illuminated to shine a light on the great work hundreds of individuals have done as part of Habitat for Humanity. They will also be handing out treats and gifts at two of the homes and everyone is invited! You can RSVP at giveffect.com.
CMHFH is also currently accepting applicants for the Veterans Build Homeownership program for people who are currently serving, have served, or are the surviving spouse of someone who served in the U.S. Armed Forces. Applications for the General Homeownership Program are typically accepted in the summer months. You can visit www.cmhfh.org and follow their Facebook or Instagram accounts for updates.