HFHTC was incorporated in 1999 as the 72nd Habitat for Humanity affiliate in California and is now one of more than 1,500 affiliates throughout the United States and 550 internationally, serving over 3,000 communities. Initially, HFHTC performed owner-occupied home rehabilitations. After a generous donation of three residential lots in 2001, HFHTC committed to building or rehabilitating at least one house a year. With this in mind, our affiliate completed 6 homes in 6 years.
In 2009, HFHTC purchased a partially completed subdivision in foreclosure with the intent to build 35 single-family homes over the next 5 to 6 years. Construction for the Parrotts Ferry Village homes began in the fall of 2011 and so far we have completed 4 homes with the generous help and support of the Tuolumne County community.
To date, HFHTC has built ten homes and completed three home rehabilitations. These projects have provided simple, yet high quality and affordable housing in Tuolumne County.
The weakened economic climate has exacerbated the affordable housing problem. Job losses and reduced hours have cut incomes of many families. The downturn has also affected the ability of market-rate developers to profitably enter the affordable housing market in Tuolumne County, thereby making HFHTC the only developer currently building affordable housing in the county. A recent Community Development Department report stated that since 2008, 201 homes that average-income earners can afford have been approved, but none have been built.
Attempted remedies, such as a new Inclusionary Ordinance added to the Tuolumne County Housing Element with the intent of providing affordable housing, have not resulted in more units being built or funds being generated to build them. In the April 6, 2011 edition of the local newspaper, The Union Democrat, an article discussing the effectiveness of the Inclusionary Ordinance quoted a Tuolumne County Supervisor as saying, “The truth is, the Inclusionary Ordinance has accomplished zero. Habitat for Humanity is doing more for affordable housing than we are.”
Compared to the general population of homeowners, the most immediate benefit partner families derive from owning a Habitat house is a decrease in housing expenses. Volunteer labor and the donation of goods and services enable Habitat to build homes more economically and are therefore more affordable for the partnered families. As a consequence, Habitat is able to offer families interest-free, thirty year mortgage loans with payments at or below what they were paying for rent.
Statistics provided by Habitat for Humanity, International, indicate that partnership with Habitat and owning a Habitat home positively affect low income families in several important ways; which,in turn benefit the community.
- A family that owns a home is better able to provide stability for their children.
- As the new homeowners make mortgage payments and build equity (a form of forced savings), they accumulate wealth previously unavailable to them as non-homeowners.
- As they become more established in their homes and neighborhoods, the family’s sense of well-being, dignity and pride flourish.
- As a result, these families are more likely to become involved in and contribute to civic activities by voting in local elections and by working to help solve local problems.
- The most tangible benefit to the community is the increase in property tax revenue. The Habitat partner families pay property taxes on the appraised value of their home, a source of revenue the county would not have had from these same families as renters.
Most importantly the school aged children of homeowners show greater potential than their counterparts who reside in poorer housing conditions:
- They are more likely to realize increased educational and employment opportunities because they are more likely to stay in school.
- They have better test scores and are more apt to become employed as adults.
- They also have a much greater chance of becoming homeowners themselves.
- Additionally, the children living in homes owned by their family seem to be healthier. They are less likely to have mental health or behavioral problems or to suffer from asthma, viral infections or anemia – conditions often associated with substandard housing.
The community benefits when its citizens benefit.