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Build a Habitat for Humanity Home

by Beth Hering
The Challenge

Habitat for Humanity does more than build houses for the homeless and the poor — it builds lives. A child can spend his time at school learning rather than worrying where he will sleep that night. A low-income worker can start saving for the future because his Habitat home has an affordable loan. Families can feel the pride of having a home with a permanent address to call their own.

But the recipients of Habitat for Humanity homes are not the only beneficiaries. The volunteer Habitat builders are also left smiling, knowing their work made a tangible, long-lasting difference. Habitat for Humanity volunteers frequently report the thrill they get from learning tasks they never thought they could do and seeing a final product that they literally had a hand in creating.

Habitat for Humanity is not a giveaway program. In addition to a down payment and monthly mortgage payments, new homeowners invest hundreds of hours of their own labor--sweat equity--into building their Habitat house and the houses of others. Habitat houses are affordable for low-income families because there is no profit included in the sale price and no interest charged on the mortgage.

While Habitat for Humanity has built more than 400,000 houses for homeless and poor people throughout the world since 1976, there are still thousands of people who would love the chance to become homeowners and are ready to do their share. But they cannot do it alone. They need the help of you — their neighbor — to make their dream of owning a home a reality.

How to Make a Difference I Did This!
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    • Help build a Habitat house in your region or locate a local Habitat for Humanity affiliate anywhere in America. No experience is necessary.
    • Explore Habitat for Humanity opportunities abroad through its Global Village program. Volunteers work alongside members of the host community. Costs vary by country and trip length (about $1,300-$2,500, excluding air fare) and include room and board, in-country transportation, travel insurance, and a donation toward the host community's building program.
    • Join Habitat for Humanity's Women Build program. More than 1,750 Habitat houses have been built by women crews around the world. (Women, of course, are welcome on other Habitat crews also, but many women like the bonding experience of an all-female crew.)
    • Superstorm Sandy in 2012 left tens of thousands of people without homes. If you are interested in helping victims of this disaster, Habitat for Humanity needs your volunteer energy.
    • The destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 left thousands of dwellings in New Orleans in need of repair or total rebuilding. To help out in that region, consider one of the following volunteer vacations (some are not affiliated with Habitat for Humanity):
  • Habitat for Humanity's Gulf Coast affiliates offer special volunteer opportunities to build Habitat homes for victims of Hurricane Katrina.
  • One of the hardest-hit areas, the Lower Ninth Ward, is especially in need of help. Volunteers can assist through the organization lowernine.org. If space allows, volunteers are welcome to lodge on-site at the group's dormitory-style housing for $100/week (meals included).
  • The St. Bernard Project seeks to remove barriers for families who wish to move back into their homes in Orleans and St. Bernard Parishes. Volunteers are needed to help carry out this mission and rebuild homes. Participants are responsible for their own transportation, food, and lodging, but many local establishments offer discounts


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