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State and nonprofit partnerships set stage for building

Although Jimmy Carter Work Project opening ceremonies were held last night, preparations to make this week of blitz building possible have been going on for many months. Great Lakes Capital Fund has provided house sponsorships and Michigan State Housing Development Authority provided important development assistance to affiliates to make this year’s statewide JCWP possible. Through the support of these organizations and other JCWP sponsors, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm says, “The state of Michigan will benefit from Habitat for Humanity’s efforts to build homes and provide much-needed rehabilitation and healing to communities and families in need.”

The Michigan State Housing Development Authority, established in 1966, provides financial and technical assistance to create and preserve decent, affordable housing for low- and moderate-income Michigan residents. While MSHDA is a state agency, it is not financed through state taxes; instead, it sells bond and notes to private investors to fund its operations. Since 1993, MSHDA has invested more than $23 million to support Habitat building in Michigan; and Michael DeVos, executive director of MSHDA, says, “We’re very proud of that investment.”

MSHDA provided $2.5 million in no-interest pre-development loans so Habitat could prepare basements and other infrastructure needed to begin building in Benton Harbor and Detroit. Furthermore, MSHDA has given $3.5 million to support Habitat families in Michigan this year—including the 230 families building as part of this year’s JCWP—in the form of a buy down that lowers the homeowners’ purchase price by $10,000.

Soon-to-be homeowner Tonya Hall works with volunteers to raise the wall of her new home, House #3 in Detroit. “How many people can say they actually helped build their own house?” says Tonya, who has enjoyed her sweat-equity hours. “You can get tears in your eyes just standing here on the build site.” Tonya’s home is sponsored by the Great Lakes Capital Fund.

The Great Lakes Capital Fund is a nonprofit community development finance organization that works with Habitat for Humanity and other partners to create affordable housing through tax credits and other avenues. In the past 10 years, GLCF has created $1 billion worth of housing in Michigan.

GLCF is one of five event-wide partners for this year’s JCWP. It is sponsoring five houses as part of this year’s JCWP—including houses in Detroit, the rural community of Iron Mountain in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and towns in between. Mark McDaniel, president of GLCF, observes that the partnership between Habitat and GLCF is “a model that all communities can look to to revitalize and stabilize neighborhoods.”

Ken Bensen, president of Habitat for Humanity of Michigan, comments: “The essence of the relationship with MSHDA and GLCF is a public/private partnership that serves Michigan families immediately. With their help, 62 Michigan affiliates are building more than 230 houses during this year’s Jimmy Carter Work Project.”

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