Most of us are familiar with the good works that Habitat for Humanity is engaged in across the country. Do you know the impact our state affiliate, Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona, offers our community?
It is huge. Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona (HHCA) is the third largest affiliate nationally, just behind New York and Los Angeles. That alone is impressive, but there is more! We asked Jason Barlow, President and CEO of Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona for statistics to demonstrate the positive impact in Central Arizona’s community.
More than 1,051 affordable homes have been built. This year alone, more than 550 families have been served, most of them through the home repairs program. Jason tells us there are over 50,000 families in Maricopa County alone who are living in substandard housing.
“We can’t build homes for all of them, but we can help with the repairs needed to make them livable,” he says.
The HHCA serves our veterans’ community in a big way. They are one of the largest entities serving the housing needs of veterans in the Valley.
Jason tells us that they also serve disadvantaged seniors addressing aging in place. Tub-to-shower conversions, plumbing, electrical, structural, roof, paint, and other repairs are a significant part of what makes HHCA the nation’s number one affiliate to serve families.
Right now, there are 29 new homes under construction and 54 homes in the planning stages.
“It takes two to three years to get a project to where we can start making it come out of the ground,” Jason states.
Habitat ReStores have become popular across the country. The Central Arizona affiliate has four of them across the Valley. Two are in Phoenix, one in Peoria, and one in Tempe. Jason was recently at the Tempe location. He was impressed with the number of appliances available and the quality of hundreds of other items in the store.
“There is a great capacity in this Valley for giving. Many higher-end remodeling clients donate their existing appliances that are going to be replaced, which is where we get the occasional Sub Zero refrigerator and Wolf Range in our stores.”
The stores are geared toward home improvement projects.
“Think of Goodwill meets Home Depot,” he describes.
To assist in obtaining quality items for the stores, HHCA has implemented the Deconstruction Program. Tradespeople skilled in taking things apart or down will come to a home before a remodel begins and remove the cabinets, doors, windows, and appliances for free. These items will find their way into one of the four stores and not area landfills. This saves money for the remodeling clients, and Jason estimates they have kept 5,000,000 pounds of debris from area landfills. This is an impressive contribution and provides great products at a cost considerably lower than retail.
“You might get a gently used Wolf Range for 50 percent of the cost of a new one,” Jason says.
During COVID, the stores were providing curbside pick-up and delivery. HHCA also implemented an online shopping alternative. Buyers go to the online store, look at the inventory, and make a purchase. The item can be picked up or delivered. Customers come from far and wide to take advantage of this service. Some come from as far away as the United Kingdom! The service started three years ago, and Jason says sales and income roughly double each year. What an awesome way to help fund their projects!
A recent project involved building the first 3D-printed home for a Habitat affiliate. The home and the recipient family celebrated its first anniversary this past April. The homeowners love it and find it very energy-efficient. Jason notes that more printed homes are likely in the future.
“We are sort of waiting for the building codes to catch up. Structural engineers are working with code officials to develop new codes addressing the 3D process. Also, the machines themselves are improving all the time, and when that all comes together, undoubtedly more homes will be constructed.”
Another trend is to build two-story homes. By having a smaller footprint, the density of a parcel can be increased, allowing more homes to be built on a particular parcel of land. With land costs being what they are, this trend has become a necessity.
There are eight other affiliates around the state of Arizona. Each one has had many levels of success. Working together, each becomes stronger through the exchange of ideas, successes, and even failures. To facilitate beneficial interactions, the affiliates participate in a shared phone meeting each month. The calls are a very important and helpful tactic that makes all Habitat for Humanity affiliates stronger.
Jason tells us the goal for all Habitat affiliates is to give the community a hand-up, not a handout. Each family chosen for a Habitat home must meet certain criteria and contribute 400 hours of sweat equity to the affiliate, typically by working on their home. Once in the home, Habitat serves as the lending institution. The new homeowner will make mortgage payments based on their income (payments never exceed 30% of their gross income), based on a 0% interest rate. This is really a hand-up, not a handout.
How can you help?
Jason notes that Maricopa County residents have huge hearts and a capacity for giving, which is the mainstay of this affiliate’s success. HHCA is always looking for ways to get the word out and find those of us with big hearts. Land donations or discounted parcels are a tremendous boost to get the house project moving.
“If 150 families would provide their $800 tax credit to Habitat for Humanity of Central Arizona, that would give us the funding needed for one new home to be built.” Jason hints.
Now, that is something we can help get the word out for!
Whether you live in Maricopa County, Pima County, Yavapai County, or elsewhere in Arizona (or out of state for our winter residents and visitors), learn more about how Habitat for Humanity serves your community and how you can help and benefit.
President and CEO of Habitat For Humanity Central Arizona Jason Barlow has grown this chapter of Habitat to one of the best in the country. It’s more that building homes for those in need. It’s the volunteers, ReStores, De-Construction teams, the first 3D constructed home in Arizona. He talks about it all including the new Construction Training Program featuring classes, on the job training and more!