In the previous post, I spoke of the need for people to invest in their communities in order to feel a real sense of pride in place and to become involved to keep their neighborhoods healthy over the long run. Today I came across an interview in the LA region's Planning Report with the CEO of the region's chapter of Habitat for Humanity that offers some pretty strong numerical support for this point:
Our families are all required to invest 500 hours of sweat equity in helping to build their houses, and this requirement defines the success of Habitat for Humanity. Sweat equity is essentially volunteer labor. In my mind this is what makes Habitat for Humanity unique when compared to all other programs, because it engenders buy-in from the family.
Typical homeowners move every seven years, but Habitat families stay in their homes much longer. In 16 years we have built almost 200 units, and only two families have ever moved out. They both got better jobs—one in Portland and one in Texas. Also, we have had zero families default on their mortgage in 16 years. Since they build their homes and neighborhoods, our families have such a sense of pride and ownership that they want to pass their houses on to future generations.
I'm well aware that the importance of community investment is hardly an earth-shattering concept. But I think that it's impressive -- and inspiring -- to see numbers like these.
Habitat for Humanity Scours L.A. Region to Find Properties & Build Affordable Housing (The Planning Report)
Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles