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Habitat for Humanity works with families to provide affordable housing

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AMERICUS, Ga. -

600,000 families are living in affordable housing today thanks to Habitat for Humanity's efforts, but it didn't come free. Habitat's volunteers work with the homeowners, not for them, creating a unique sense of ownership.

Whether through natural disaster or lack of resources, over one billion people worldwide live in substandard housing. Habitat for Humanity International has been working to change that for the past 37 years, one home at a time.

"Decent housing is something that we feel like everyone is entitled to," says Director of Corporate Services Sybil Carter, "and people who work for Habitat are very impassioned about that, and they're dedicated to the mission of Habitat."

HR administrator Cynthia Jenkins says, "You meet people you've never seen before and see that they've lost things, and just to think that could've been you, and I'm sure it's great and rewarding for them knowing that you've got these total strangers that have traveled miles and miles away to come help you."

Volunteer labor and donations of money and supplies are a major force behind Habitat's success, but one of the most important components is "sweat equity." Every home recipient contributes to the final product in some way.

Carter says, "It gives them a sense of ownership because they actually have pounded the nails that go into their home, and it's something that makes them feel proud, and again, that they have ownership."

In Americus, Habitat's headquarters bring in students to learn about the mission and inspire them to become actively involved. The Global Village and Discovery Center shows the need for affordable housing in countries all over the world.

You can see how homes are built from India to South Africa. Materials used to construct the houses are locally obtained and help them fit in with their neighbors, keeping the cost to build as low as possible. It's part of the reason Habitat continues to grow, adapting to fit the needs of families everywhere.

"It's a very, very rewarding job," says Carter. "I learn something new everyday, especially when we're working with other countries."

Families selected for a Habitat home must be able to pay a low monthly mortgage. To learn how to apply for a home or to help build in your hometown, visit http://www.habitat.org/.

Habitat for Humanity also helps build schools and provides clean water and natural resources to communities in need.

Jessi Mitchell

Jessi joined the WRBL news team in October 2012 after working as a freelance production assistant for MTV Networks in Los Angeles.
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