The Publication of Habitat for Humanity International

Habitat World

FoundationsFrom Habitat CEO Jonathan Reckford

Improving affordable housing

Words by Jonathan Reckford

Photo by Jason Asteros

Published on Mar. 18, 2013

Habitat for Humanity homeowners around the world are reaping the benefits of innovations that make living costs more affordable and communities more sustainable.

The involvement of generous and imaginative supporters places sustainable homes within the reach of many more families. Habitat is privileged to partner with expert businesses, government agencies and nonprofit organizations that help make money-saving innovations available to homeowners.

Focusing on sustainability is economically, environmentally and morally the right thing to do. -Jonathan Reckford

As you will read in this package of online Habitat World features, we continue to raise the bar to construct homes that exceed stringent standards for energy efficiency. We also are devising resourceful plans for accessing and using water, combining geothermal and solar power, and locating homes near public transportation and business centers.

Creative ideas to make affordable housing even better run the gamut, in locations from Utah to Macedonia. Simply switching from an open fire to a concrete stove in Ethiopia, for example, is saving homeowners 50 percent in the consumption of wood and reducing smoke released from firewood by 60 percent. Habitat Seattle-King County’s “House of the Immediate Future” showcases the possibilities of adaptable, affordable and efficient design. And in other locations across the United States, innovative house plans and retrofits are saving families 30 to 40 percent on utility bills.

That money saved on energy costs enables families to have more cash for essentials like food and medicine. The savings can also allow families to better maintain their homes. One homeowner recently helped me look even further into the future. He told me that the increase in available income made possible by his Habitat house meant that he did not have to work two jobs. He did not have to be away from his children at night, and he and his wife have been able to go to school. 

As people begin to reclaim the ideas of community and neighborhood, we are seeing the inclusion of neighborhood gardens, community centers, and pedestrian and bike paths at many Habitat sites. For more than 30 years, we have witnessed how a sense of ownership and belonging strengthens families and communities.

Focusing on sustainability is economically, environmentally and morally the right thing to do. By embracing creative housing solutions — and continuing to commit ourselves to a world where everyone has a decent place to live — we will continue to impact generations to come.