How substandard housing affects families and the difference Habitat is making

Too many families that currently have housing spend their days struggling to keep an affordable roof over their heads. That struggle often involves agonizing choices.

Second jobs, extra shifts. Moves to neighborhoods that are less safe, where schools might not be as good. Deeper debt. Less spent on health care and healthy food.

When housing isn’t affordable and secure, families suffer.

According to the 2014 How Housing Matters survey:

  • The majority of Americans understand that, all too often, families who are struggling to maintain their housing have to make difficult tradeoffs.
  • In fact, 52 percent of those surveyed say they have made at least one of the tradeoffs listed above in the past three years in order to be able to cover their rent or mortgage.
  • Families that are financially on the edge and distressed make such sacrifices at higher rates than those who are not, and three in four distressed parents have made one of these sacrifices in the past three years in order to cover their rent or mortgage.
  • On-the-edge and distressed families not only make more sacrifices. They also worry about housing and financial considerations at much higher rates and report struggling to keep up with bills and concerns about being foreclosed and evicted at much higher rates. Habitat homeowner Joyce Foster’s future is brighter, thanks to an affordable mortgage. She is debt-free, has a stronger sense of community and sees college opportunities for her children.

An affordable mortgage — the kind that Habitat offers to families around the world — puts families on firmer footing. Purposeful plans can replace tough choices. Worries about tomorrow can become dreams of a better future.

Stability and security help families turn the corner and take the first fundamental steps on the path out of poverty.

What difference does a Habitat house make?

  • Catherine Prosser once faced two equally unacceptable choices: stay in the cramped home that was causing one son to develop asthma or struggle to pay exorbitant apartment rent. Then she partnered with Habitat, and an affordable mortgage changed everything for her family. More room, less worry and the hope that follows when a family can plan their future.
  • Joyce Foster was working two jobs and barely making ends meet, finding herself in debt whenever anything unexpected happened. An affordable Habitat mortgage has given her family more security, a supportive community and the chance for her children to attend college.
  • Habitat Sacramento has helped more than 100 families start anew, finding that homeowners report that they save more, feel more connected to the community and their children do better in school.

Habitat believes that home is where the start is. Home should be a place of calm and comfort for families, and it can be. Your support creates that potential. That’s why we build.

Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of posts exploring the findings of the MacArthur Foundation’s 2014 How Housing Matters survey, the impacts experienced by those in distressed housing situations, and the belief that something can be done.