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Making a Difference: Habitat for Humanity providing roofs over many heads

naplesnews.com

5 days ago   Article ID# 4166488
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Habitat for Humanity of Collier County

NAPLES, FLORIDA (naplesnews.com) - While having a roof over your head is fundamental, for many, owning a home is considered to be an essential part of achieving the American dream.

“Shelter is the most basic of human needs,” said Lisa Lefkow, CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Collier County. “We want to make sure that everyone has access to a safe and affordable home. And I’m incredibly proud and humbled to be part of this affiliate which has made that life-changing difference for nearly 2,000 families.”

Habitat for Humanity of Collier County has been giving residents the opportunity to help build and then purchase their own homes since 1978.

The local affiliate was founded just two years after Habitat for Humanity International first broke ground for a home in Americus, Georgia. Yes, that’s Jimmy Carter country, and our 39th president has been a proponent and volunteer, actually swinging a hammer for many years.

Habitat’s global mission is to “bring people together to build homes, communities, and hope.” And they envision a world in which everyone has “a decent place to live.” Here in Collier County, the local organization serves as a model for Habitat worldwide having been recognized as a pioneer in excellence and an affiliate of the year.

Locally, Habitat strives to eliminate substandard housing by immersing would-be homeowners in a comprehensive application process. Legal status is verified, of course, along with employment and income history. Then there are criminal and credit background checks.

There’s an education piece which includes classes in budgeting, understanding the mortgage and home maintenance. Once approved, Habitat homeowners must roll up their sleeves and actually help build their own homes and those of their neighbors. They must come up with a $1,000 down payment and enough to cover their first year’s insurance premium. Then they make affordable mortgage payments in person each month at the Habitat office. A 3 percent delinquency rate and a foreclosure rate of less than 1 percent prove the system is working.

So, who are the people who benefit from the wonderful work being done by Habitat? Habitat of Collier County President Nick Kouloheras feels they’re bringing “all walks of life together regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, age, wealth or social status.”

Habitat homeowner Candy Luders agrees the experience was life changing for her family.

“We’re extremely grateful that our children now have the chance for a better life because of the security of our home,” she said.

Another homeowner, Nancy Morales, says her kids claim the air is different in their new home: “They tell me they can breathe better because life here is just so much better. Now we go for long walks in the evening on a nice path and with no traffic. We couldn’t do that before because it wasn’t very safe in our old neighborhood.”

Habitat began building 20 homes a year in Collier County primarily on scattered lots in Naples Manor and Immokalee. This year they’ll complete 120 homes, many of them in planned communities which have homeowners associations that maintain community standards while staging things like block parties and neighborhood clean-ups.

Habitat for Humanity of Collier County is proud to say that 93 cents of every dollar raised goes directly toward building homes. That’s due in large part to help received by volunteers who wield a hammer, as Jimmy Carter is known to do, or assist in other ways.

You can also help by donating to the cause or shopping at one of the two Habitat stores: A home furnishings store on the East Trail and a home improvement center on Yahl Street.

Copyright 2017 naplesnews.com   (Copyright Terms)
Updated 5 days ago   Article ID# 4166488

Habitat for Humanity of Collier County    Visit Website

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