While many people think about helping those in need, entire communities are coming together to do just that with Habitat for Humanity of Orange County.
Habitat for Humanity International was founded in1976, with the goal of building homes in partnership with people in need. However, it would soon expand all over the United States. Locally, the Orange County affiliate was officially started in 1988.
The primary goal of Habitat for Humanity of Orange County is to offer hardworking families a hand up, not a handout, by offering affordable housing opportunities. While other charities might share that ideal, one of the biggest differences is that while other organizations offer affordable rental opportunities, Habitat offers low-income families the opportunity of homeownership. Another difference is how action is taken to ensure this occurs. Instead of hiring outside help like many other organizations, Habitat OC relies heavily on a volunteer model. It's a community of people looking after each other. One of the best aspects of this is that it seldom feels like charity to people. Instead, it's just neighbors banding together to help neighbors, just as they would expect in return if the need arose. In this way, the system not only builds homes, but also builds ties of compassion and understanding between everyone involved.
Currently the Orange County affiliate is run by a board of directors and a small staff. Sharon Ellis is the President and CEO and has provided leadership and direction to Habitat OC for seven years. She became President and CEO because she believes that simple, decent homes transform children's lives. She is an expert on the subject of poverty housing in Orange County.
Habitat for Humanity of Orange County transforms lives and communities by helping families in need build and purchase or renovate their own homes. Habitat uses donations of land, funding, materials, professional services and volunteer labor to build simple, decent homes which are sold to qualified low-income families for a 1% down payment, 250 hours of "sweat equity," closing costs, and a zero-equivalent interest mortgage. Habitat for Humanity families and volunteers have built 172 homes in Orange County since 1988.
Two homes are also currently under construction in Santa Ana. One of the highlights of both projects is a dedication to clean energy. Both homes will be fully outfitted with a solar based electrical generation system. This will not only allow the houses to be more self-reliant, but ensure that energy demands are met in the most environmentally clean way possible.
The Habitat for Humanity of Orange County homes provide the secure, stable environment that children need in order to improve their grades, finish their education, obtain good jobs, and break the cycle of poverty. This program truly makes a difference for the families served and for the entire community.
In all, Habitat for Humanity has been one of the most successful nonprofits to help qualified low-income families purchase a stable, affordable home. There's also always a need for more people to get involved. Every hand helps, and the Orange County, and other affiliates are always happy to meet new volunteers.