Habitat for Humanity Helping Veterans and Empowering Women
Joanna Gagis talks with Chief Executive Officer of Morris Habitat for Humanity, Blair Schleicher Bravo, about how this Habitat chapter is building affordable housing for individuals, how they are helping veterans find permanent housing, and how they empower women to build in the process.
"Welcome to Life and Living. I'm Joanna Gagis. Since 1976, Habitat for Humanity has helped nearly 7 million people find strength, stability, and independence through safe, decent, and affordable shelter and here to talk about what's happening at the Morris County Habitat for Humanity in New Jersey is Blair Schleicher Bravo, Chief Executive Officer at Morris Habitat for Humanity. Welcome to the program. Thank you for having me Joanna. Habitat for Humanity has been doing tremendous work for decades now. Mmmhmm. Talk about what's happening in your chapter right now. Well, it's 40 years this year for Habitat International. This is their 40th anniversary and we're an affiliate of Habitat International. We've been around for over 30 years and this year we are building 17 homes and repairing 10 homes for low income home owners. We also will have about 11,000 volunteer visits to come out and help us with those home buildings and home repair and of course all of the families that we will be helping. Who do you help? Who are these families who you're serving? They're families like you and me. Their incomes are lower. The medium income in Morris County is about $95,000 a year so we're working with families that are about 50% to 80% of that. They are families who are childcare workers. They work for nonprofits. They're administrative and retail and hospital workers. Your department of public works folks. Folks that are in the community. Mainly service type jobs. $40,000 to $50,000 a year which sounds like more than a modest salary in other places, but not in New Jersey, especially Northern New Jersey. Right. The high cost of living, the high cost of property values here in the state. So, how do you select those who are given homes... and we'll come back to that because that... I know they're not just given the home, but we'll come back to that. How do you select them? Well, first we do an affirmative marketing which means that we market each project in a four county area and sort of going back to the big picture, we work with municipalities and their affordable housing obligation. The Mount Laurel or the KOA program. So we've got to follow the rules and regulations of not only Habitat, but the state. So, we market. We get the applications in and then we screen applications for the income eligibility, the ability to pay. As Habitat affiliates, we also hold mortgages or we offer an affordable mortgage. So we make sure that the home owners can pay a mortgage and that they're willing to do their sweat equity so it's income, it's need, and it's the sweat equity and then we put them in a lottery and select from the lottery..."