Each year tens of thousands of dollars are donated by locals to Habitat for Humanity of the San Juans, 100 percent of those funds, according to the organization, go directly towards construction costs. The board of directors at the local Habitat for Humanity affiliate incorporates non-profit financial management “best practices” in order to ensure the organization is as solid as the homes they build.
Since 1991, Habitat for Humanity of the San Juans have worked with the community to build over 50 houses. They’re currently constructing a triplex in Montrose, with another planned for Ridgway. Housing opportunities are also currently available in Norwood.
One of the most satisfying things you can do is drive by the Habitat for Humanity triplex currently under construction on Park Avenue, according to Habitat’s Director, Colleen Aller.
“Chances are good that you’ve either made a cash donation, donated household items to the ReStore or ROOMS by Habitat, shopped with us, attended an event, or volunteered — which means you’ve personally helped to build three homes.”
According to Aller, Habitat for Humanity of the San Juans models itself in the same image as Habitat for Humanity International, which Forbes magazine ranks as number 6 in its list of Top 100 Charities.
“I take comfort in knowing that we have a supportive board of directors who takes their job very seriously. I’m proud of the work we do to implement best practices, yearly audits, and ethics policies to protect donor dollars, the organization and the staff.”
Come early spring, three local families including five adults and six children will walk through those doors on Park Avenue, unpack their belongings, and perhaps breathe a little easier knowing they have a home, with a mortgage they can afford, and a place to raise their families for years to come.
According to Habitat, children of homeowners are 25 percent more likely to graduate high school and those who grow up in a Habitat home are twice as likely to go to college, compared to the local average for similar demographic and economic groups.
Future Habitat homeowners are selected locally, with the criteria centering on their need for decent housing, their ability to repay an affordable mortgage and their willingness to partner with Habitat to build or improve a place they can call home.
Those future homeowners perform hundreds of hours of sweat equity, which can take many forms: building their home or a home for another family, build-site clean-up, working in a Habitat ReStore, assisting in administrative duties, or countless other ways of helping out.
Starting this winter, children also can contribute by earning good grades in school. According to Aller, her organization intends roll out a new policy to award one hour of sweat equity for every “A” a Habitat child earns.
Aller hopes that more donations will come through the door. “We’re building seven homes by 2020. We need the community’s support to do this.”
Habitat for Humanity of the San Juans accepts one time donations and also offers a monthly giving program for automatic payments and perks for membership. For more information visit buildinglives.org.