State’s Habitat efforts lauded

State’s Habitat efforts lauded
Weakley County Habitat for Humanity’s work of providing affordable housing to Weakley County residents contributed to Tennessee being ranked as 4th in the United States for Habitat for Humanity home builds, with 255 homes built in 2011.
Weakley County HFH is one of the 51 Habitat affiliates in Tennessee serving 63 counties. While Habitat for Humanity’s greatest achievements occur in the lives of the families served in the program, it is also a multi-million dollar enterprise with state-wide economic impact. No other non-profit has the breadth of impact on the state economy that Habitat delivers, according to a representative.  
In Tennessee, Habitat for Humanity generates a total annual economic impact equivalent to over 1,500 full-time, full-year jobs. Habitat’s total annual earnings impact in Tennessee is estimated to be approximately $55.7 million.
Each completed Habitat home creates an impact equivalent to 6.24 full-time jobs or $230,000 in earnings statewide, according to a recent economic impact study conducted by the University of Tennessee’s Center for Business and Economic Research in Knoxville.
Considering an average construction cost of $75,000 for each Habitat home that must be raised from individuals, groups and businesses in the community, the return on investment to the local economy is 306 percent.  
Habitat homeowners also pay property taxes, often for the first time in their lives. In 2011, Weakley County HFH’s homeowners paid over $8,300 in city and county property taxes, supporting crucial services.
“Many people are familiar with the social services benefits of Habitat for Humanity, but there is so much more at stake in terms of immediate and long-term economic impact for the families we serve, their communities, surrounding businesses and the state at large,” said Colleen Dudley, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Tennessee.
“Improved quality of life for individuals, local communities and the state is the sole mission of Tennessee’s Habitat program.”
The road to purchasing a Habitat home is a long one but incredibly worthwhile. Families are put through an intense selection process, are required to contribute 200-500 “sweat equity” hours building their home, and attend mandatory homebuyer classes to prepare them for homeownership.  
When the house is complete, Habitat sells it to the family with a no-cost, zero-interest mortgage. Owners’ payments support construction of more Habitat homes.
This spring, Weakley County HFH will be building a home in Gleason, its 17th home in Weakley County and its second in Gleason.
Due to the affordable mortgage payments and support along the way, Habitat rarely experiences a foreclosure. Across Tennessee, the Habitat foreclosure rate since 1977 is below 2.9 percent.
A copy of Habitat for Humanity of Tennessee’s economic impact study can be found at www.HabitatTN.org.

WCP 2.16.12

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