Habitat for Humanity Paterson Encourages Women in Construction
Executive Director of Paterson Habitat for Humanity, Barbara Dunn, describes how Habitat for Humanity is serving the Paterson area. Dunn also shares how Habitat is encouraging women to learn about construction.
"Welcome back to Life & Living. When you hear this woman say "raise the roof" it means a whole lot more than what you're probably thinking. Barbara Dunn, Executive Director of Paterson Habitat For Humanity is in the business of getting roofs over families' heads. Welcome to the program. Thank you. Absolutely. Tell me the mission of Paterson Habitat For Humanity. We really focus on shelter, and the impact of having a home for a family. Many years we used the term, "a habitat's a hand up" and now we're talking more in terms of having decent shelter means that families have the strength and the stability and the self reliance to make choices in their life, and to really change, not only their lives, but the lives of neighbors in their community. So we look beyond just kind of building a single house, but we're looking on the truly wide impact of Habitat's work. And homeownership really gives people that sense of self sufficiency, right? It does. It does. We're able to actually make our mortgage payments, equal or less than what families are currently paying for rent. And so for families financially, it's an opportunity to build some equity for their children, and then future generations. You're working primarily in the 1st and 4th Wards of Paterson? Yes. Describe the needs that are unique to this community, and that are very challenging for these folks to overcome? I think they're typical of what you find in a post industrial city. You know, folks that, from this area, remember Paterson in the '50s and '60s when it was still a very vibrant, dynamic place. And as industries left, poverty kind of entered in. And so we began 1984 in the 1st Ward because that was the worst area of city, and where the city had taken back a lot of properties, and were willing to give us some to start. And so it was an all volunteer organization for almost four years. They built almost 40 houses. It was amazing. It was just volunteers. And we began to see the impact of building in concentration. And so we've continued that approach to today. And in the 1st Ward, we have close to 180 homeowners. And now we target most of our construction in the 4th Ward, a targeted area of 12 lots in the 4th Ward. So you've seen some incremental change in that 1st Ward? Yes. You're now moving to the 4th Ward? Right. And hope to see some of those same changes? Right. Right. How do people who are going to purchase this home...? Where do they get the equity for the home? How do they buy the home? Oftentimes these families don't have the economic... Sure. Sure. ...means to..."