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Habitat Homeowners Connecting with their Communities

Becky Engen
Posted by Becky Engen on 1:49 PM on January 9, 2015

Roughly 50-60 hardworking, deserving families move into Habitat homes each year. But what happens after they tackle the big move?

As part of the program, all Habitat homeowners are required to make their mortgage payment and cover their other bills each month. They are also paired with a Neighborhood Family Partner (NFP), whose role it is to help the family with their transition into their new home. NFP volunteers are current local homeowners who have an understanding of basic home maintenance and are engaged in their community.  They serve as mentors and are a great resource for Habitat partner families. Beyond that, however, each homebuyer family’s journey is entirely unique. Some families come back to Habitat as volunteers, advocates and supporters. Others establish roots in their community through various service projects or neighborhood initiatives. Some, do both.

Building Community

Habitat_on_the_HillHabitat Partner Families are invited to annual Habitat events, like the Homeowner picnic and Fall Fix-It Fair, and are also given the opportunity to attend post-purchase trainings. Many homeowners come back and volunteer with Habitat on site, or as Neighborhood Family Partners and Home Interviewers. Some also contribute sweat equity hours for friends that are currently going through the Habitat homebuyer process. Homeowners continue to spread the word to friends, family, and community members about Habitat’s services and a handful of families attend Habitat on the Hill to advocate for affordable housing at the Capitol each year.

“Habitat homeowners regularly work with Habitat post-purchase in a variety of roles,” said Ben Swegarden, Post-Purchase Support Associate at Twin Cities Habitat. “Many have helped new families transition into homeownership by sharing their knowledge and resources. Others have helped in our affordable housing efforts by speaking with city councilmembers or other local leaders. Some of these homeowners purchased their Habitat homes decades ago, but still choose to involve themselves with Habitat.”

It may surprise you to learn that Habitat homeowners are also doing things and supporting each other as part of smaller “Habitat communities.”

Garden Gate is a townhome development, where 34 of the units were built by Habitat for Humanity. In this community, neighbors work together to coordinate childcare and pickups and drop offs to and from school and youth sports and activities.

Another Habitat program, Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative (NRI), focuses on building community, not just building houses. With the understanding that it takes more than one safe, affordable, quality house to revive a neighborhood, NRI has taken the initiative to partner with community members and local organizations to help build capacity and make sustainable change for the Frogtown/Rondo and Jordan areas of the Twin Cities. The NRI also partners with Habitat’s Youth United team to coordinate neighborhood clean ups.


Making a Difference

Habitat families often share their desire to get involved in their new communities. As one of the few certified Somali legal translators, Abdi Elmi is one of the busiest- and most impressive- homeowners that we’ve partnered with. He supports the Somali community with his translation services and has also served as the President of his Association Board.

Mohammad_and_his_familyAnother example of community involvement is Mohammad Zafar and his family, who live in their Habitat home in Oakdale. Mohammad served in the Marines, and has been honored for his work to foster a better understanding of the Muslim community. Mohammad also created an event “Running 30 Miles in Ramadan”, encouraging Muslims to join him in running one mile each day during the 30 days of Ramadan.

There are many more examples of individual homeowners doing wonderful things in their communities.

“Many Habitat homeowners have volunteered their time in positions such as community council presidents or neighborhood association board members,” Ben shared. “By taking on these roles, these homeowners are strengthening communication and trust amongst their neighbors, thus helping build a safe and prosperous community.”

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Tags: Family Spotlight, Archive

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