Habitat for Humanity Offers Help to Single Parents in Need of Housing
It’s no secret that raising a family these days is becoming more costly all the time. Single parents have it that much harder as they juggle the demands of holding down a job and caring for their children. While providing financially for their family is just one of many concerns they have, it’s certainly an issue that can have the biggest impact and cause the most stress.
Let’s take a closer look at what these households face and how one nonprofit is working to give them a hand.
Across America, some 19 million children live with only one parent. When you think of the profile of a single-parent household, you might imagine a mother with one or more young dependents. If so, you’d be correct. Statistically, about 75% of single-parent families have a female head.
Furthermore, over the past five decades the number of youngsters residing with only their mothers has almost doubled. These children are considerably more likely to live in poverty—four times as often as those living in two-parent homes.
Single mothers tend to be poor, food insecure, and unemployed compared to married couples. Understandably, finding and maintaining safe and affordable housing is significantly difficult for these families. It can be impossible in many cities across the country to locate housing that doesn’t require spending above the recommended 30% of one’s income on shelter.
There are a number of programs offering housing assistance to families in need and single-parent households, some that are nationwide and others that are available at the state or community level. Habitat for Humanity is one enterprise that offers a unique type of housing support in all 50 states.
Interestingly, this non-profit is also active in about 70 countries around the globe. Their vision is that every person, regardless of where they live, deserves to live in a decent dwelling. Habitat for Humanity takes the view that, long-term, home ownership provides the necessary stability for families to feel secure and for their members to grow and thrive.
They work at the community level to identify families in need of proper housing who are interested in owning a permanent residence. Applicants are typically the working poor who struggle to pay high rent but for whom home ownership is out of reach. Many single mothers fall into this category.
Habitat for Humanity provides help to parents and helps them to build self-reliance by partnering with them to build a new house. Family members work together with volunteers from the organization on whatever aspect of the home construction they can. This is referred to as “sweat equity” on the part of the family. The unpaid hours that go into building the dwelling go far to reduce the overall cost.
Interested households first apply at a local Habitat for Humanity office. In approving an application, the organization considers the family’s level of need, how willing they are to partner with Habitat for Humanity and what their ability is to make mortgage payments through an affordable plan. Heads of household will also receive a financial education to assist them to balance their budget and continue to pay for their homes.
Depending on the circumstances, home ownership may not always involve new construction. Habitat for Humanity is also in the business of renovating homes to accommodate the families they partner with. For example, in urban settings this may be more doable than finding a city building lot. In addition, it’s noteworthy that the enterprise assists homeowners who need help to improve and repair their houses.
When single mothers have the security that affordable home ownership provides, they can put down roots in a community and raise their children in a safe and stable environment. The young ones will grow up feeling like they belong somewhere, making friends in the neighborhood, attending the same school throughout their education, joining clubs, and participating in other local activities.
Similarly, mothers will make connections with other parents nearby, taking advantage of local services, feeling integrated and supported. Before long, they’ll really feel at home and begin looking toward the future in a positive way rather than fearing they may have to move again due to an unstable rental situation.
Habitat for Humanity has seen evidence that their charity has made some real inroads in the area of housing insecurity. They know that for youngsters to develop and grow, they need a strong and stable living situation. Families who have received Habitat for Humanity’s help have better overall financial health, and they are able to save money for the future and invest in their children’s education.
What’s more, Habitat for Humanity has seen a range of tangible outcomes such as an increase in parents’ confidence and even children receiving higher grades in school. All this points to some significant life-changing results that are long-lasting.