Habitat for Humanity among top builders in Miami-Dade

By Joseph McDaniels
Habitat for Humanity of Greater Miami is among the top residential builders in Miami-Dade County, according to a special report by MetroStudy. The report accounts for residential closings for fiscal year 2009-10 and ranks Miami Habitat at No. 4 with 79 closings.
Miami Habitat’s position reflects the steady growth the non-profit builder has experienced during the past several years. While larger, for-profit residential builders have cut back production due to the spiraling economy, Miami Habitat has continued to pour its resources into building homes for low-income families who are in need of affordable housing.
“We’re driven by need, not by profit, so we’ve been able to build during these challenging times,” said Anne Manning, executive director of the organization.
Habitat for Humanity’s model is based on what founder Millard Fuller called “biblical economics.” The Christian housing ministry sells its homes to low income families at cost (no profit) and does not charge interest on the loans provided to each purchaser. All homeowners help build their homes, providing a down payment of “sweat equity” and monthly mortgage payments are funneled back into the construction of more homes.
Because the payments are affordable, the organization has a low foreclosure rate. The organization also services their mortgages in-house which allows staff to work closely with families who are experiencing financial difficulties. Only three homeowners over the past two years have lost their home through foreclosure.
With a low 5.2 percent administrative cost and 2.9 percent in fundraising, this 21-year-old organization channels more than 90 percent of its contributions into the construction of homes. Affordability of the homes is maintained with the contributions of volunteer builders and donations from individuals, businesses, and foundations. In recent years, much of the cost burden has been reduced through the county’s contribution of hundreds of vacant lots, meaning land cost does not get passed on to the Habitat home purchasers.
Next year’s production numbers are expected to be even greater with the recent $9 million award from HUD to purchase foreclosed and abandoned properties in the urban core.
“Each of the over 800 Habitat homes spread throughout the county is a testimony to God’s love for us and our love for one another,” Manning said. “Habitat’s success is simply the success of this community in reaching out to make a meaningful difference in the lives of our neighbors in need.”
For more information about Habitat for Humanity of Greater Miami visit online at www.miamihabitat.org.

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