Habitat willing to work with, not for, residents


Jane Elfring

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Habitat for Humanity International is an organization that builds and rehabs houses with low income partner families. The organization also believes that working with residents in low-income neighborhoods to improve the quality of life for residents is an important part of its mission and encourages affiliates to pursue this in their communities.

Last month, the board of Elizabeth City Habitat for Humanity voted to work with residents of selected neighborhoods to clean-up their streets. Several streets were identified, and several local organizations volunteered to help. We had planned to do this on Earth Day.

Our AmeriCorps member personally visited 59 homes where she spoke to 24 people and left information for those she was unable to meet directly. Only six people agreed to work with us to clean-up their neighborhoods. Reluctantly, we had to cancel this project because of the lack of interest.

Habitat does not do things for people who are unwilling to help. We work with them, not for them in these projects. When we construct, rehab, or repair a house, the partner family must be willing to complete sweat equity hours. In turn, they receive a zero-interest mortgage.

We have not ruled out the possibility of a clean-up in another neighborhood and hope to be able to schedule one in the future for residents who are willing to partner with us in this effort.

Jane Elfring

Elizabeth City

Editor’s note: The author is president of Elizabeth City Chapter of Habitat for Humanity.