A world where everyone has a decent place to live.
Seeking to put God’s love into action, Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities and hope.
Why is Habitat Needed?
Living in substandard housing endangers health and safety, erodes hope and self-worth, and can impair the ability of children to succeed.
In 1986, several concerned Gloucester County residents from church and community organizations recognized the need to serve low-income families by building affordable housing. Gloucester County Habitat for Humanity (GCHFH) was founded to meet that need. Since then, thirty-seven houses have been built or rehabilitated in communities throughout Gloucester County.
GCHFH is an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International. GCHFH receives no funding or financial support from the parent organization. Rather, funds are obtained from individuals, churches and corporate donors. GCHFH also conducts fund-raising events such as the Annual Casino Night and the Walk for Humanity. The objective of all fund-raising efforts is self-sustainability.
In 2005, GCHFH began a major subdivision of twelve single-family houses in Clayton. This was one of the largest single Habitat project in the Northeast U.S and was completed in 2009.
In the summer of 2008, GCHFH started a retail operation known as ReStore. ReStore accepts and sells good quality, donated items such as furniture, appliances, home furnishings/ fixtures and building materials. Items are sold at deep discount. Net proceeds will help GCHFH in meeting its mission in building affordable housing.
The GCHFH mission of building safe, decent and affordable housing has been and will remain a formidable challenge. New Jersey ranks as one of the least affordable States in the U.S. for housing relative to income. It is through partnerships with community, business and government organizations that GCHFH will face this challenge. It is with the support and kind consideration of the individual Gloucester County resident that the challenge will be met.
MEETING NEEDS: Economic growth in South Jersey will undeniably generate a growth in the workforce and a commensurate need for housing. Although South Jersey has seen considerable growth in the construction of single family homes, the price range of $200,000 to $400,000 has created an obvious barrier to home-ownership for low-income families. In fact, according to the National Low-Income Study “Out of Reach”, New Jersey ranks 4th nationally in terms of the affordability gap between average wage and average house price. South Jersey will invariably be confronted with the challenge to meet the need for affordable housing. GCHFH stands ready to meet that need.
CAPACITY: Since its inception in 1986, GCHFH has produced over thirty -seven(37) single family homes for low-income families. The typical GCHFH house is a three bedroom, approximately 1200 square foot, single story structure. In every respect, these houses meet all the standards placed on their market-rate counterparts. In fact, a GCHFH house placed beside a comparable market-rate house would be architecturally indistinguishable. The actual construction work is accomplished by an established network of trades people, volunteers and volunteer teams. GCHFH has demonstrated its capacity to function not only as a house builder, but as a developer and general contractor. GCHFH developed a major subdivision of twelve (12) single family homes. At the time this project in total represents one of the largest Habitat for Humanity project in the Northeast United States. It is noteworthy that volunteers and otherwise semi-skilled personnel performed the functions and tasks normally performed by professional developers and general contractors. Additionally, GCHFH is a State Certified Community Housing Development Organization.
COST EFFECTIVENESS: GCHFH has a missioned commitment to cost effectiveness as a matter of good stewardship. GCHFH produces and sells at cost. Therefore, the greatest potential for affordability to a low income purchaser is realized. Furthermore, a low cost per unit sets the potential for a higher number of housing units produced within any given funding block. Cost effectiveness is realized in several ways:
Materials: In all dealings, GCHFH asks for and many times receives an outright donation of materials. GCHFH also utilizes and established network of building material suppliers who have historically shown pricing consideration.
Trades: As a matter of building codes and license requirements, GCHFH must retain the services of trade’s people, such as masons, plumbers, electricians and HVAC. Again; established networks of trade’s people show consideration in bids and contracts.
Labor: The greatest percentage of actual house construction is performed by volunteers. Typically, the skill set of volunteers range from skilled to semi-skilled to general tasks and labor. Production and efficiency is achieved with the supervision and oversight of GCHFH personnel. The combination of experienced GCHFH supervisory personnel and a dedicated, well-meaning group of volunteers, yields considerable cost savings in terms of total construction costs. Based on a recent construction cost study of a typical GCHFH house, total construction costs are $70,000. This yields a cost per square foot of $59.00. The GCHFH cost per square foot is particularly significant since it represents half that of for-profit contractors.
A unique characteristic of GCHFH is the manner in which funds are utilized. Funds received are used to build a house. Mortgage income from that house is used to build more houses which build more houses and so on. Therefore, funding received is exponentially effective and sustainable. Theoretically, with sufficient funding GCHFH could build into perpetuity.
SUSTAINABILITY THROUGH INNOVATION: GCHFH has its’ own retail operation known as Restore. No public sector funds were utilized for purposes of site acquisition or capital improvement. Restore accepts and sells donated items such as furniture, appliances, home furnishings and building materials. Proceeds from operations will support and sustain the mission of GCHFH.
Restore generates other economic and societal benefits:
- Six full time jobs have been created
- $150,000 capital improvement funds went to local contractors and material suppliers
- Useful items sold at deep discounts become available to low-income residents
- Volunteer opportunities are created
- Donated items are diverted from landfills
COMMUNITY GOOD: Home-ownership, particularly for low-income residents in the workforce, is their most significant personal investment. As such, they are investing in the future of their families and their communities. Homeowners become taxpayers. They participate not only in the local economy but also in the life of the community.
GCHFH believes that home-ownership provide both a social and economic platform from which low-income working families can build and grow their futures, in doing so, those families become good neighbors and good citizens. Intrinsically, home-ownership is nothing less than simple human dignity.