Submitted by Habitat for Humanity—Greater Peoria Area
More than 18 million households—1 in 6—are paying more than half of their income on housing and are considered severely cost-burdened, as of 2019. The largest share of these households includes 9.5 million renters earning less than $30,000 per year and 5.4 million homeowners earning less than $30,000. The latest data also shows that nearly 38 million households are spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing. This burden often means families have to make tough decisions on whether to spend the remainder of their income on health insurance, groceries, child care, better schools, or reliable transportation. That $30,000 each year will not cover everything. The United States is experiencing high rates of housing unaffordability because rising rents and persistently high home prices overrule the slow gains in income. Overall, rents were up another 3.6 percent in 2018, and home prices were near their highest levels since 1980, adjusting for inflation.
Add to the mix that we’re building far too few new homes, including too few starter homes for sale, and a miniscule number of modestly-priced apartments and it becomes increasingly evident that there is a housing crisis at hand. In the face of what some are calling an “affordable housing crisis”, Habitat for Humanity is already taking action.
Habitat for Humanity Greater Peoria Area is a local affiliate of the Habitat for Humanity International organization, who has been building affordable housing since 1976. That year, in Americus, Georgia, Millard Fuller began the organization that is now known world-wide for its boots to the ground approach to creating a world where everyone has a simple, durable, safe, and dignified place to live. A once small organization has stayed true to its Christian values and humble roots, but grown to serve in all 50 states and in 70 different countries.
Habitat for Humanity is fiercely dedicated to eliminating substandard housing locally through construction, rehabilitation and preservation of homes; by advocating for fair and just housing policies; and by providing training and access to resources to help families improve their shelter conditions. Their work is founded in the conviction that decent shelter in decent communities should be a matter of conscience and action for all. At Habitat for Humanity, housing is a basic human right.
For the last 30 years, Habitat Greater Peoria has been partnering with local families who live in substandard housing. These families apply for a homeownership program that requires three things:
- Sub-standard housing and financial need
- Ability to pay an affordable and interest-free Habitat mortgage
- Willingness to partner for 250-500 sweat equity hours to prove their dedication to the program
The organization believes education is a powerful tool in improving the quality of life for partner families. That is why Habitat for Humanity Greater Peoria Area requires that families attend 21 homeownership classes, 12 of which are focused on financial management and debt counseling. Partner families are given the support, education, and resources they need to become strong, independent and empowered homeowners. Habitat for Humanity is an equal opportunity housing organization and serves people in need of decent housing regardless of race or religion.
Since their start in 1989, Habitat for Humanity Greater Peoria Area has built more than 160 new affordable homes in Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, and Marshall Counties. They recently undertook a neighborhood revitalization initiative with the help of the City of Peoria, where they built 15 homes in a one block radius in a nationally recognized Opportunity Zone. “Habitat for Humanity is grateful to all of the companies, individuals and churches who sponsor our builds; the Peoria area is so generous,” states Lea Anne Schmidgall, Executive Director for Habitat for Humanity Greater Peoria Area.
As a nonprofit organization, Habitat for Humanity Greater Peoria Area runs on very low overhead costs and depends on a passionate and diverse volunteer-base to sustain its operations. Volunteers join Habitat on its mission for many reasons:
- giving back to the city they love
- learning new skills
- to meet new people
What they all find is their place in the bigger picture. It’s important to know that you can be the change that you want to see in your community. Habitat welcomes volunteers and supporters from all backgrounds.
Jack Talcott is one of our tenured ReStore volunteers. After 40 years with Caterpillar, Jack retired and began volunteering with Habitat. His work ensures that all lighting fixtures are wired correctly and working before being sold. Whether you’re interested in joining Habitat as a volunteer individually or with your church or local organization, there are endless opportunities to do so. Volunteers are needed for the following roles:
Construction Site Volunteers
Construction volunteers are the backbone of Habitat and without their help, Habitat would not be able to sell homes at affordable prices. Construction volunteers are out on the job site doing hands-on work alongside construction staff and homeowners. No construction experience is required and Habitat supplies all of the tools, safety equipment, and materials.
Core Construction Volunteers
Core volunteers are a team of construction volunteers who make a weekly commitment to join Habitat on the construction site on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. It is a great opportunity to meet new people, be active, and learn construction skills that can be applied on your own home. No construction experience is required and Habitat supplies all of the tools, safety equipment, and materials.
Homeowner Support Committee Members
This committee helps maintain homeowner relationships and empowers our partner families by building on their strengths and walking alongside them as they become homeowners. Habitat is always looking for good listeners with relationship building skills and life experience to provide resources, guidance and education to partner families.
Family Selection Committee Members
This committee seeks out applicant families, reviews applications, visits applicant homes for assessment of need, interviews partner families, and recommends the families who need Habitat services most to the Board for approval. Habitat is looking for volunteers who are willing and able to meet with potential homeowners for interviews and have strong family values, empathy, and compassion to help screen and select families to become Habitat homeowners.
If you don’t see anything above the appeals to you, Habitat is always open to volunteers providing snacks or lunch at worksites for construction volunteers. Other opportunities are also available depending on your skills and talents.
If you are interested in becoming a Habitat for Humanity volunteer, please contact the Volunteer Coordinator at 309-676-6729 ext. 10.
Support Habitat at Our ReStores
The Habitat for Humanity ReStores help Habitat fund their construction projects and homeownership program. Habitat ReStores take reusable goods and materials and keep them out of landfills. They get donations from merchants, manufacturers, schools, and individuals that are sold to bargain hunters and those sales generate needed funds for their mission.
Our two ReStore locations take donations of:
- Appliances—clean and fully functioning
- Carpet—minimum 6’x6’
- Furniture—Visibly clean, all parts present
- Garden Supplies
- Hardware and Tools
- Light Fixtures and Ceiling Fans
- Lumber and Trim—At least 6’ long
- Plumbing and Electrical
- Sheet Goods—minimum 4’x4’
- Tile and Flooring
And recently, Habitat ReStores have started selling fresh paint:
Amazon Paint is premium, high quality, eco-friendly, latex paint that can be used indoors and outdoors. Habitat currently sells Amazon Paint in six, egg-shell finish colors. Get 1 gallon for $15 or 5 gallons for $65.
You can shop the Habitat ReStores every Tuesday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. or schedule a donation by calling 309-676-8402.