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Genworth Financial Supports Habitat Solutions for Families in Need

 

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Genworth volunteers in Poland.

   
 

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Genworth volunteers starting to build the internal walls.

   
 

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Genworth volunteer smoothing the top surface of the blocks.

   
 

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Genworth volunteer putting mortar on the block.

   
 

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Genworth volunteers having fun during their well deserved lunch break.

   
 

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Genworth volunteers levelling the wall they are building.

   
 

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Genworth volunteers almost finishing their task of building the internal walls.

   
 

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Proud Genworth volunteers after finishing their rewarding job of volunteering for Habitat.

   

Like Habitat for Humanity, Genworth Financial believes that community development begins with the family home, and that safe and decent housing is the platform from which all people fulfill their potential. This common understanding is what makes the two organizations natural partners in finding creative solutions to improve access to low cost, sustainable home ownership for vulnerable families.

Genworth first began its partnership with Habitat for Humanity International in the United States, with the company’s employees investing almost 1,000 hours of time to work on Habitat home building projects. The charitable relationship expanded to Canada and most recently to Great Britain and Poland.

Genworth Financial is a global financial security company that helps people achieve earlier access to home ownership through Mortgage Insurance. Its wider products and services help meet the investment, protection, retirement and lifestyle needs of more than 15 million customers in over 25 countries.  

Community Development in Great Britain

Genworth Financial’s charitable giving arm, The Genworth Foundation, has generously committed ₤70,000 over two years in support of Habitat’s comprehensive strategies to address long term housing needs in Southwark, South East London. Southwark is a poor community whose families are vulnerable to a rapidly rising cost of living and lack of access to affordable mortgages. It is also a neighborhood where many live in homeless shelters and have little earning potential.

Understanding government policy and affordable housing demand are at the heart of solving the housing crisis in Southwark. Genworth’s monetary support allows Habitat to survey how government policy affects access to affordable and decent housing, and to work with its government and local organizational partners to identify innovative ways of coping. Solutions include:

• exploration of affordable rental properties

• land acquisition

• increased use of commercial and community financing and other shared equity schemes

• reducing costs through volunteer labor and expanded fundraising in the community

• support for skills training of local community participants.

Genworth employees located in London have also been a part of this unique initiative through the “Genworth Volunteers” program. In 2008, Genworth employees participated in the completion of the building of a block of 12 flats in Peckham that now house vulnerable adults impacted by mental illness and addiction. With the help of a local charity, residents are now living in decent accommodations and returning to independent living in the community.

“Genworth is proud to be a part of addressing critical needs in communities around London,” said Genworth Foundation board member Martin Ring. “Groups of our employees have had the great experience of working alongside vulnerable members of society and understand that most people simply need a single opportunity to begin the work of rebuilding their lives.”

Rebuilding Lives Family by Family in Poland

When Barbara’s home in Kolsko, Poland, where she lives with her three children and mother was completely destroyed by fire in late 2006, the family felt helpless. But they were not alone. The local community knew and loved this family, known for their generosity to others despite their financial struggles. The community offered temporary shelter and began a collection of funds to help begin rebuilding the house.

However, with a limited income earned through Barbara’s job at a mushroom factory and her mother’s small pension, the family was not able to generate all the funds needed for comprehensive repair. Thanks to a generous donation from the Genworth Foundation, the family was finally able to complete the renovation with a new roof, windows and heating and plumbing system. The home also has a new exterior protection from harsh weather conditions.

“I am so grateful to the Genworth Foundation for helping us complete the house reconstruction with our neighbors,” said Barbara. “Having our home back gives us hope, dignity and stability as a family.”

As in Great Britain, Genworth employees worked alongside families, this time in Warsaw, at a project providing homes for 12 families. It was a rewarding experience for all.

Genworth Foundation support also helped to complete renovation on an entire block of 16 flats in Koscielec, a small village in Western Poland. The building, formerly owned by the local state farm, was suffering from structural damages causing heat to escape the building and forcing its low income residents to pay large sums of money for utilities each month.

Although the families saved enough to begin work on more efficient insulation and repair to exterior walls, they were unable to complete the renovations until Genworth offered assistance. With work completed in summer 2008, these families in Koscielec were prepared for the brutal winter months ahead in 2008 and 2009.

Habitat for Humanity is grateful for its ongoing relationship with Genworth Financial and hopes to expand the partnership in Poland. Heather Alner, Corporate Fundraising Manager at Habitat for Humanity Europe and Central Asia is convinced of Genworth’s larger impact:

“We have seen through our partnership with Genworth how a single project can transform an entire community and improve the lives of the families we serve over the long term.”