Welcome to our blog!  Our plan for this blog is to provide some insights, from our perspective, into the issues surrounding affordable housing, particularly in Wake County, NC.  We’ll also plan to highlight some of the great work happening around affordable housing in our area and the many organizations out there serving different segments of the need continuum.  And as a Christian housing ministry that is inclusive of others from different faith backgrounds, we’ll plan to write from the viewpoint of a faith-based housing provider and how faith compels us to reach out to our neighbors in need.  Since our mission is so tied to environmental responsibility—from building “green” homes to recycling used building materials through our Restore—we’ll always have something to say about how important it is that “green” practices extend to the nonprofit housing world and does not become just a nice perk for high-end housing.

Recently, Habitat for Humanity was ranked as the 8th largest home builder in the United States for calendar year 2009 by building 5,294 houses with families in need.  This is a great achievement and testimony to all of our dedicated volunteers and donors.  Taken on face value this is great cause for celebration for an organization that funds its construction on the sole generosity of donors and builds with volunteers, many of whom are unskilled at construction.  Looking deeper, however, I’ve wondered: what is it about our system of delivering housing in the U.S. that an organization that operates outside the predominant system is among the nation’s largest builders?

According to Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, households with severe housing cost burdens (defined as spending more than half their incomes on housing) jumped by a third in 2008 to 16% of all households.  According to the Center’s report, The State of the Nation’s Housing 2010, “a record 18.6 million households faced these high cost burdens that year (2008), an increase of 640,000 since 2007 and 4.7 million since 2001.  Living within these households were 44.2 million Americans, including 13.7 million children.”

…and Habitat for Humanity affiliates and our donors and volunteers built 5,294 homes.  Significant?  Yes.  Adequate?  Far from it.

So I ask myself, why is the U.S. housing production and financing system leaving so many people behind?  Why do people with low-wage, yet essential jobs have difficulty in securing affording housing through the marketplace?  What needs to change in the system so that our society supports a simple, decent, affordable place to live for all of our citizens?  We want to know what you think.