No matter who we are or where we come from, we all deserve to have a decent life. We deserve to feel strength and stability day after day. We deserve to know we have the power to take care of ourselves and build our own futures. At Habitat for Humanity, this is what unites us. Our shared vision is a world where everyone has a decent place to live. Because you, me, we – we’re all humans. And every single one of us deserves the opportunity for a better future.
THE NEED IN CHICAGO
Chicago has recently seen dramatic increases in cost-burdened renters and owners across every income group: one in 10 people currently lives in inadequate housing conditions. This is a critical issue, as housing is essential to healthy families and communities. Research consistently demonstrated the life-changing benefits of quality, stable, affordable housing, such as improved health outcomes, school performance, and financial fitness.
While it's incredibly important that individuals and families have a healthy and affordable home, we know it's equally important to holistically support entire communities. In Chicago, we know that neighborhoods are drivers of individual well-being, so we concentrate our work and investments into specific neighborhoods to maximize our impact. Currently, we are work within the South Side neighborhoods of West Pullman and Greater Grand Crossing. Our programs and services include:
We partner with hard-working families who do not qualify for traditional loans to become homeowners. Qualifying households meet three basic criteria: 1) demonstrate a need for decent housing (currently living in unsafe or overcrowded conditions or are rent-burdened); 2) are willing to partner in our program by completing 250+ volunteer hours and attending a series of homebuyer readiness training classes; 3) have the ability to purchase their home with an affordable mortgage. Qualifying families enter the program as a cohort, designed to provide built-in support for navigating the process of first-time homeownership. At the end of the program, members of the cohorts purchase newly constructed homes in one of our focus neighborhoods, built by themselves, volunteers, and Habitat construction staff.
Habitat Chicago is invested in the vitality of housing markets as a source of welfare to its residents; a well-prepared homeowner investing in his/her neighborhood through homeownership, property taxes, local spending, and social capital, regardless of his/her lender, only improves that vitality. Our public Homebuyer University is designed to ready individuals to enter the homebuying process. At the end of the program, individuals may opt to pursue the best homeownership option for their situation, be it a non-traditional loan through Habitat Chicago, a semi-traditional loan through a nonprofit lending partner, or a traditional loan through a bank or similar lender.
Our Neighborhood Grants Initiative invites neighbors in our focus areas to identify beautification and improvement projects they would like to make happen in their communities and submit an application to Habitat for funding to make the projects possible. Upon approval, neighbors work together to plan for and carry out the projects. Previous projects have included basketball court repairs, a social media news broadcasting campaign, a back-to-school drive, and an urban farm.
HOME CARE EDUCATION
Home Care is a series of hands-on classes designed to help individuals take care of and improve their homes. In addition to practical instruction, the classes equip attendees with strategies for budgeting, project management, and deciding between DIY and professional services. Class topics rotate each quarter with needs common to Chicago's housing stock.