Everybody Deserves a Home

Hfh_sf Last night I attended an orientation session for Habitat Humanity San Francisco. What an experience! After hearing stories and watching videos, it was pretty evident how a decent home makes such a difference, and provides a strong foundation for a family. Sterling’s three offices are currently attending orientations and scheduling weekend times to be a part of a build site this fall and it’s going to be awesome to have something tangible to look at in the future and know that "there’s something here that we’ve helped to make."

There were about two dozen folks at the orientation and we started the evening by introducing ourselves. It warmed my heart to hear the different stories about why they came… there were a few college grads looking to keep busy while searching for that "real-world" career, a few unemployed workers looking to fill up their free time, folks with relevant skills seeking to bring their talents to a worthy cause, and lifelong volunteers reaching out to a new community. What gave me chills is the number of SF residents who just said "I (heart) SF and I want to give back to the city." Some were natives, many have lived here going on 8, 11 years. It was just great to see the interest. Some people hadn’t even heard of Habitat, but came along to support friends or loved ones.

Interesting facts:

  • San Francisco has built 31 homes over the last 12 years, sheltering 72 adults and 95 children.
  • The SF office is staffed by 9 FT employees and 5 AmeriCorps volunteers.
  • By the end of the summer, the SF affiliate will have merged with the one located on the Peninsula, and the combined affiliate will serve Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo counties.
  • This organization is needed! As a recently example, 180 families applied for a recent build, only 80 passed the qualification process and only 4 received homes.
  • Selected owners donate 500 hours of sweat equity. Homes are for working families making at least $35K but less than $52K. And as they repay their 0%-interest loan, the mortgage should take up no more than 1/3 of monthly income.
  • These home are built with green practices in mind. Yay!
  • Internationally, Habitat for Humanity–founded in 1976–has built 250K homes in 90 countries, sheltering 1M people.
  • To build a Habitat home in SF costs on average $260K. Nationally, it only costs $50K-60K. In Honduras, only $5K-6K.

As a side note, we had a trivia contest to start the orientation and I won a ski cap! I put it to use immediately because as I left at 7:15, the weather put a different chill in me. Whether Mark Twain said it or not, it’s true:  "the coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in SF."