It goes without saying that our lives have changed quite a bit in 2020. Faced with an ongoing global health pandemic, we’ve adjusted in countless ways to a new normal that includes terms like social distancing, quarantine and distance learning. People of all ages have tackled new technology out of necessity for work, school or socialization. We’ve all seen stark images of deserted public places, and face masks have become a staple wardrobe item – even to the point that they have been fashionized as an accessory.
As part of these changes, most of us have been spending a lot of time at home over the past several months. Although we can get a bit stir crazy, my husband and I have commented multiple times with gratitude that we live in a home where we feel safe and comfortable. But there are many people who don’t have that same experience.
7 facts about the housing crisis
Affordable housing was an issue faced by many in the U.S. and around the world prior to COVID-19, and the pandemic has only exacerbated instability, which ranges from trouble paying rent to homelessness. Habitat for Humanity International envisions a world where everyone has a decent place to live, and the organization partners with individuals and families every day to build or improve a place they can call home.
Recently, Habitat for Humanity International published a list of seven key findings about housing and the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s a quick rundown of what they found:
- Nearly one-third of people can’t afford all of their needs (think: rent, bills, groceries, medical care).
- COVID-19 isn’t affecting all communities equally. Black Americans in particular are more harmed by the virus itself, and they are also facing unemployment at higher rates.
- Families are struggling to make rent both fully and on time.
- The number of borrowers who have deferred payments on their home loans has climbed.
- Mortgage lenders continue to tighten lending standards, making it more difficult for individuals to access sound lines of credit for homeownership.
- Builders of multifamily homes report construction delays due to various obstacles like permitting or construction moratoriums. These delays could impact both availability and pricing of the units.
- The future remains uncertain as record unemployment and unstable economic activity drag on; many fear their ability to make ends meet.
How Habitat for Humanity International is responding
Regardless of mission or work area, nonprofits around the world are experiencing an increased demand for their services with the added pressure of adapting to an unfamiliar fundraising landscape. The way in which they serve their constituents has changed as well, especially for organizations like Habitat for Humanity International that rely on volunteer work and in-person programming. Even though many Habitat organizations continue to build and repair homes, most have suspended traditional on-site volunteer activities to protect against COVID-19.
Habitat for Humanity International has developed guidance to assist their local organizations in making the best decisions about resuming operations and programming based on the status of their communities. Here are just a few of the ways the organization is working to ensure that all have a decent place to live:
- Home construction: Habitat for Humanity International works in North America and around the world to build houses based on the needs of the homeowner and what is appropriate for typical cultural and geographic construction.
- Aging in place: Many Americans over 65 want to continue living in their existing homes, but they are faced with repair needs that are beyond their ability to address. That’s where Habitat for Humanity International comes in to help, ensuring that they can maintain independence and the security of a safe place to live.
- Neighborhood revitalization: Through local partnerships, Habitat for Humanity International is able to help communities create lasting change that increases safety and access to things like healthy grocery options, financial services and child-safe spaces.
- Disaster recovery: When an emergency happens, shelter is one of the initial basic needs for those affected. Habitat for Humanity International works to help communities prepare for disasters through preparedness training, and their teams are also on the ground or working together with partners to provide sustainable shelter and longer-term solutions.
Aside from programming to directly support the broad range of housing needs, Habitat for Humanity International also works to advocate on behalf of these issues and the nonprofit sector in general. Their team has worked with Congress and others to share recommendations and voice concerns on a variety of topics from mortgage forbearance to foreclosures and evictions, and nonprofit relief to support for low income families.
Through it all, Habitat for Humanity International has remained committed to their mission and the global community they serve – even expanding their efforts to support those on the front lines of COVID-19 response through donations of personal protective equipment and materials for health care providers. The organization’s approach and attitude during a time of ongoing challenges is a true inspiration.
“The future is never promised, although it often can easily feel that way when things are going according to plan. May the turbulence of these days bind us to each other and to our shared mission, which is more important now than it ever has been. Together, we are better. Together, we will get through this. And together, we will build back.” – Habitat for Humanity International
Support Habitat for Humanity International’s efforts to build back
There are many ways that you can support Habitat for Humanity International and their amazing programs – one of the best ways to do so is to give through your workplace. Giving at work is convenient and can amplify your generosity and impact through payroll pledges, matching gifts and volunteerism. Habitat for Humanity International even has a tool to see if your employer will match contributions.
Are you a federal employee, military service member or retiree? Ensure your gift goes to support these programs and address housing issues across the global by giving to Habitat for Humanity International through the Combined Federal Campaign using #10945.
Here are several other ways to get involved:
- Donate to Global Impact’s North America High Impact Fund to support Habitat for Humanity International and other leading international nonprofits either directly or through your workplace campaign via Benevity or YourCause.
- Learn more about the impacts of COVID-19 on housing and the communities that are especially affected by this crisis through Habitat for Humanity International’s +You Thought Leadership series.
- Advocate for fair and affordable housing by taking part in Habitat for Humanity International’s Cost of Home campaign.
- Engage with Habitat for Humanity International on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.