At a time when a safe and healthy home has never been more important, Habitat for Humanity serves 5.9 million more people through new or improved housing
Habitat marks more than 35 million people served since 1976 as it releases its 2020 annual report, noting additional strides in housing advocacy, microfinancing, community reinvestment
ATLANTA (Nov. 17, 2020) — A safe, decent and healthy home has been the first line of defense for families around the globe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to the work of Habitat for Humanity, more than 5.9 million people accessed better housing in the last year, according to the global nonprofit’s fiscal year 2020 annual report released today.
The report highlights how the organization addressed the need for safe, decent and affordable shelter worldwide, under mounting headwinds from the pandemic that restricted some of the ways Habitat traditionally executes its mission. With many of the organization’s usual activities affected by the spread of COVID-19 over the course of the fiscal year (July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020), its affiliated organizations in more than 70 countries and 1,100 communities across the United States found ways to adapt and continue serving.
“While this year has brought many challenges and heartaches to communities we serve across the world, I’m grateful that Habitat has had an opportunity to serve so many families when they needed it most,” said Jonathan T.M. Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity International. “At Habitat, we are religious about our principles, but not about our tactics. I’ve been inspired by the ingenuity and flexibility of Habitat organizations around the world who quickly adapted to the crisis and built new strategies to carry out our mission. We are clear-eyed that the future will bring more headwinds, but I know that the people who enable our mission — our donors, staff, volunteers, advocates and the people we serve — are as dedicated as ever to our vision of a world where everyone has a decent place to live.”
While the COVID-19 pandemic greatly curtailed traditional volunteer experiences, with build sites largely closed to general volunteers since the spring, Habitat still benefited from the hands and hearts of nearly 1 million volunteers before the shutdowns began.
In fiscal year 2020, Habitat for Humanity International reported US$287 million in revenue, along with an estimated US$2.3 billion in total revenue through the organization’s federated network of Habitat organizations in the U.S. and around the world. Program spending at Habitat for Humanity International accounted for 74% of total expenses, including the distribution of US$193 million in cash and donated product to Habitat organizations.
The 5.9 million people who accessed new or improved housing through new home construction, rehabilitation, incremental improvements and repairs helped the organization reach the milestone of 35 million people served since its founding in 1976.
Habitat views access to safe, decent and affordable housing as the cornerstone of strong, thriving communities. Morrix, Lucy and their four children are some of those served through Habitat’s global work. The family lives in the Bauleni neighborhood of Lusaka, Zambia, in a home without running water. Like most families in the low-income settlement, they cannot afford to connect to the privately-run water system. In response, Habitat Zambia installed 28 water kiosks in and around Lusaka, including one in the family’s neighborhood, so residents have easier and safer access to the water they need for drinking, cooking, bathing and cleaning. Access to clean water became even more critical as the pandemic progressed.
In fiscal year 2020, Habitat continued to enable access to better housing for millions through its Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter. To address the impacts of COVID-19, the Center developed nearly 40 activities, from issuing small grants to shelter-related innovators to prototyping temporary shelter concepts.
Through Habitat’s advocacy work, including through the U.S. Cost of Home campaign, an additional 9.9 million people gained the potential to improve their housing conditions as a result of policy change in their community. Bobby, a new homeowner in Washington, D.C., is one of them. After years of bouncing from one friend’s home to another, the stress of where he will lay his head at night is no longer a worry. His new home is the result of a public-private partnership forged in response to the city’s growing housing crisis. Habitat for Humanity of Washington, D.C., worked in tandem with the Department of Housing and Community Development, the zoning commission and the developer of a new luxury apartment complex to use funding earmarked for a few small, affordable rentals in the new complex to instead create more than a dozen homes that could accommodate larger families. Now that he’s grounded, Bobby feels more connected to the community and wants to invest in it so that others can experience the same stability he has found.
Habitat’s impact is felt well beyond the individuals that it serves. In the U.S. and abroad, Habitat’s work promotes and drives social and economic outcomes by stimulating other sectors of the economy through spending and job creation associated with home construction, renovation and repair. Today, Habitat is also releasing Beyond the House, an economic impact analysis of Habitat organizations’ work in the U.S. in fiscal year 2019. The report found that a collective investment of US$1.55 billion in homebuilding and repair operations generated over US$2.62 billion of total economic activity across multiple sectors of their local economies, including the support of 29,168 jobs and US$1.14 billion in labor income. For every dollar invested by the Habitat network, an additional US$0.69 was injected into the local economy.
Habitat is continuing its work in the face of growing need. Even before the pandemic, more than 18 million households in the U.S. were spending more than half their income on housing, and more than 1.6 billion people globally lack adequate shelter. The economic impact of COVID-19 has substantially increased the number of people struggling with the impossible choice of covering the cost of housing and other basic needs, like food, water, heat and health care.
“These are our friends, our family and our neighbors, who now more than ever, could use the hand up that we can offer,” Reckford said. “The pandemic may have spread us apart physically, but we have never been more united it our work to build strength through shelter.”
To learn more and to read the full 2020 annual report, visit habitat.org/multimedia/annual-report-2020.
About Habitat for Humanity
Driven by the vision that everyone needs a decent place to live, Habitat for Humanity began in 1976 as a grassroots effort on a community farm in southern Georgia. The Christian housing organization has since grown to become a leading global nonprofit working in local communities across all 50 states in the U.S., and in more than 70 countries. Families and individuals in need of a hand up partner with Habitat for Humanity to build or improve a place they can call home. Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage. Through financial support, volunteering or adding a voice to support affordable housing, everyone can help families achieve the strength, stability and self-reliance they need to build better lives for themselves. Through shelter, we empower. To learn more, visit habitat.org.