Sociology Alternative Spring Break Partners with Habitat. Again!
In March, Sociology students and volunteers will be traveling on Spring Break to Pensacola, Florida. Granted there is the beach with all of its attractions, and these won't go unnoticed. But the main reason that several dozen students and friends will be climbing into minivans and cars to drive to the Gulf is to build homes. In its 18th year, Professor Jack King will lead a group to partner with Pensacola Habitat for Humanity. Many of the homes built by Pensacola Habitat have gone to low and very low income families whose homes were wiped out during past hurricane seasons.
Pensacola Habitat for Humanity is not a give-away program. Through the use of donations, in-kind gifts and volunteer labor Habitat builds simple decent homes and sells the homes at cost with a no-interest mortgage to deserving families. Habitat houses are built in collaboration with partner families who contribute 300 hours of their own labor known as "sweat equity". By contributing sweat equity hours, homeowners are vested in their home and neighborhood as they enjoy the tangible results of teamwork. In addition, NIU Sociology student volunteers have the opportunity to see sociology at work outside of the classroom.
Habitat's philosophy of providing simple, decent housing means that a typical three bedroom home has one bathroom and about 1,050 square feet. Carpeting and vinyl are installed, as are a stove and refrigerator. Houses do not have dishwashers, garbage disposals or garages. They work to keep the price of homes low by utilizing donated land and construction materials, as well as volunteer labor. their homes cost approximately $64,000 to build and that is the amount of the mortgage that partner families repay.
Habitat for Humanity offers a long-term solution, not a quick-fix, to the problem of poverty housing. The organization makes home ownership possible for people who would not otherwise qualify for a conventional mortgage or afford safe, decent shelter. In the process of building new homes, Habitat has cleaned up lots previously used for illegal dumping and has torn down dilapidated structures, making neighborhoods safer and cleaner. Pensacola Habitat remains the only organization in the area that offers homeownership to very low income families.