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Rotary Happenings: Habitat for Humanity on Rotary’s agenda

By Staff | Apr 27, 2016

Susan Rice, Habitat for Humanity. PHOTO PROVIDED

Food, Shelter, and Clothing are the basic needs of life. In recent years many families, individuals, disabled and the elderly have struggled to maintain those needs because of monetary economic conditions and the high cost of living.

Even those that have jobs find themselves unable to stretch their income to provide the bare necessities for their families.

According to real estate company Rent Range, rent in Fort Myers has risen 23.6% in the last year, more than anywhere else in the country. A glaring fact is wages have certainly not gone up 23.6% in our area since last year.

Rents have increased so much so that many find it would be less expensive to own their own home but , of course, you need a down payment for that and saving for that is nearly impossible.

Sanibel-Captiva Rotary?s guest speaker recently Susan Rice, Development Director of Habitat for Humanity Lee and Collier County spoke on Habitat?s building program; a program that builds or rehabilitates homes for people in need so they may build better lives for their families.

Habitat for Humanity International was founded by Millard Fuller in 1976, forty years ago this year.

In 1984 a national spotlight was turned on to this exceptional organization, when former president Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn Carter led a Habitat work team on a project in New York City.

Both Carters continue their work with Habitat and spend time on Habitat projects each year.

Habitat for Humanity is not a home give-away project. Founded with the philosophy of giving a person a hand up and not a hand out Habitat expects the following from their prospective homeowners:

NEED: family’s household gross income is below 80% of the area median income.

ABILITY TO PAY: Ability to pay back a low or no interest mortgage and $1,700 toward closing costs.

WILLINGNESS TO PARTNER: Ability to complete 300 sweat-equity hours and attend homeownership classes.

The poverty income level in the U.S. for a family of four is $25,000. If that family paid $1,000 for rent a month, $12,000 a year, you do the math, that is half of their gross income for the year.

What remains is for food, medical, car, car insurance, gas, phone, clothing, etc.

Rice said a typical wage earner would have to earn $24.59 per hr. to afford just the basic needs; the median hourly wage earner in Lee/Collier county makes $12.00 per hour.

Heads of households for these families are often referred to as the working poor, and these are household earners who work every day and want to better themselves and their families, but just can?t make it.

These are the families that Habitat for Humanity wants to partner with in making the first step for a brighter future giving them that step up, not a hand out.

Rice told us, Habitat believes everyone should have a healthy, affordable place to call home.

More than building homes, Habitat builds communities, hope, and the opportunity for families to help themselves giving them the stability to look forward to a better future.

Since 1982 Habitat for Humanity in Lee and Collier Counties has helped 1,390 find homes.

One of Lee County’s newest Habitat Builds is going on in our nearby community of Harlem Heights, Fort Myers on Gladiolus.

That particular location will hold eleven new houses. An acquisition of another parcel of land in the area is in the works with land space to build as many as 100 new homes sometime in the future.

Harlem Heights Habitat builds in Lee County began as far back as 1980s.

“Help Thy Neighbor” is not just an old saying. Many of us were brought up believing that neighbors “did” for each other. When the opportunity arises, it’s rewarding to help out.

How can you help? Get involved.

Volunteer.

Help build a home for a family; donate financially; volunteer at the Habitat ReStores – S. Ft Myers, 1633 S. Tamiami Trail, N. Ft Myers-31 Willis Rd, Bonita Springs-9080 Bonita Beach Rd; donate items for the resale stores; volunteer at the Habitat Office or at Habitat’s special events.

For more information: call 239 652-0434.

Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club meets Friday mornings at 7:00a.m., at the Dunes Golf & Tennis Club, Sanibel. Guests are always welcomed.