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Habitat for Humanity Monterey Bay has one simple vision – a world where everyone has a decent place to live.
Realizing their mission to build decent, affordable homes and to provide home ownership for families in Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties is anything but simple. But thanks to dedicated leadership, enthusiastic community support, and committed partner families, Habitat provides results – and homes to local families in need.
In April, Habitat welcomed their newest families to their homes at the Rodeo Creek Court development located in Live Oak, with a “Welcome Home” celebration. When all eleven homes are completed, this mixed residential development, located on Harper Street, will house four grade school teachers who teach at schools in the area. Two of these homes will be ADA-compliant, for families who are living with permanent physical or mental disabilities.
The idea behind Habitat for Humanity started in a small town in Georgia, and then grew overseas in the early 1970s. Habitat for Humanity International now works in all 50 states, and in 70 countries. True to the original concept of “partnership housing,” Habitat is not a giveaway program. Families purchase homes with a down payment, contribute “sweat equity,” and maintain manageable monthly payments.
The stark increase in area home prices has made it impossible for the majority of families to purchase a home. Allison Titley, Resource Development Director for Habitat for Humanity Monterey Bay, points out that the organization helps overcome some of the area’s hurdles, including high home costs and a lack of diversity among homeowners. Habitat for Humanity prides itself on giving a hand up rather than a hand out.
An important aspect of the Habitat process is the “sweat equity” that partner families bring to the table. Each Habitat homeowner is required to contribute 500 hours toward the construction of a Habitat home. Homeowner families are chosen according to their need, their ability to pay off an affordable mortgage, and their willingness to work in partnership with Habitat. Qualified families for this development earn between 50-80% of the area median income.
Another vital partnership that Habitat relies on is with teams of volunteers who work on building sites, contributing their hours to the homeowner families’ required sweat equity. Volunteers come from a wide range of backgrounds with a broad variety of skills. Some volunteers draw on their experience and bring decades of knowledge to work building affordable housing, and others come with no experience and learn how to construct a home from the ground up, working under the guidance of on-site professionals.
Santa Cruz County Bank has been a longtime supporter of Habitat Monterey Bay, providing financial sponsorship to the organization as well as enthusiastic volunteers on Team Build Days. Last October, more than a dozen Santa Cruz County Bank volunteers rolled up their sleeves and worked together on one of the units in the eleven-home development.
“We were thrilled to be on-site for the Habitat Build Day, and we’re so happy to celebrate and welcome the families moving into the homes at Rodeo Creek Court. Partnering with Habitat is a volunteer opportunity that our team always looks forward to. We’re so grateful for our partnership with Habitat Monterey Bay and for their dedication to housing families in our county.” — Krista Snelling, President and CEO of Santa Cruz County Bank