Habitat for Humanity searches for land in hurricane rebuilding efforts
AMERICUS, Ga. (Feb. 8, 2006) – Habitat for Humanity International today announced that its hurricane rebuilding program, Operation Home Delivery, is seeking buildable land on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast for future home sites.
Through a pilot program, Habitat is seeking land in three coastal counties – Jackson, Harrison and Hancock. While these counties are the focus for now, land in other southern Mississippi counties and all along the Gulf Coast is also being considered for acquisition.
“We’re searching for land in these hardest-hit counties so that we can start as quickly as possible to rebuild the communities that have suffered so greatly,” said Ken Meinert, senior vice president for Habitat’s Operation Home Delivery. “This focused pilot program will help us gauge response, offers and opportunities,” he said.
Habitat has plans to build 1,000 homes in the Gulf region in 18 months, said Meinert. “We’ve been looking for land in all of the affected states and will make focused land searches in other areas,” he said.
“Our biggest challenge in rebuilding is the acquisition of buildable land in non-flood-zone areas. We need to know what is available and where it’s available so that we can start helping people put their lives back together.”
Habitat is hopeful that land owners will be interested in helping rebuild and communicate their interest in being a part of the program, or being willing to sit down and talk about land they might have available.
“Ideally, we’re looking for lots that already have the basic infrastructure of water, sewer and power, but we’ll look at any opportunity,” said Meinert. “We’re also looking for large parcels of land where we could build entire neighborhoods and make a significant impact rather quickly.”
Donated land is the most desired option, Meinert said. “Our mission is to assist low-income families become homeowners, and we can only do that when we are cost efficient. We will rely on the generosity of landowners as we seek to fulfill our mission, both in land donations and price concessions when selling their land for a fair and reasonable price,” said Meinert.
People interested in making a land donation or who might be interested in discussing selling land to Habitat, or anyone who might know of opportunities to acquire buildable land are asked to call the Operation Home Delivery Land Office at 1-800-422-4828, Ext. 2183.
Land Considerations Checklist
Among considerations land owners or holders should think about, before they call Habitat, are:
- Is the title clear?
- Is the land zoned for residential use?
- What is the land’s FEMA designation (post Katrina)?
- Does it have water and sewer service? If not, how close is the service connection?
- Are other utilities readily available? (electricity, natural gas)
- How close is it to schools, employment, transportation, shopping?
- Is a survey or legal description of the property available?
“Habitat is ready to move forward to help rebuild homes that are so badly needed along the Gulf Coast,” said Meinert. “We have the families who are willing to partner and help build, then buy, their homes. We have the volunteers to help build those homes, and we have a plan to move quickly to provide these families safe and secure housing. Now we need the land, and the landowners who are willing to help us make these families dreams come true.”
Habitat for Humanity International
Habitat for Humanity International, based in Americus, Ga., is an ecumenical Christian ministry that welcomes to its work all people dedicated to the cause of eliminating poverty housing. Since 1976, Habitat has built more than 200,000 houses in nearly 100 countries, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for more than one million people. For more information, visit www.habitat.org.