My View: Affordable housing can help families flourish

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Keri Asevedo is executive director of Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity.

In a world where it feels like everything and everyone is in crisis, and that issue after issue bubbles to the surface and needs our immediate attention, I can’t help but think that if we spent more time focusing on housing, other areas would align.

But the world doesn’t see it the way I see it, mostly because we take for granted how integral housing is in other areas of our life, but also because it’s a silent struggle for so many Americans. We aren’t aware of the struggle a single mom faces to make her rent payment on time, or how hard it is to wash and dry your clothes at a laundromat in the middle of a global pandemic, or how low-income families are struggling to keep food on their table, or gas in their cars while also ensuring that their landlord gets his fair share of their pay.

What we know to be true is that affordable homeownership creates the conditions that free families from instability, stress and fear and encourages self-reliance and confidence. Studies show that strong and stable households are foundational to child development and growth. When a home fosters — instead of hinders — health and safety, families can flourish. Owning an affordable home also allows homeowners to lift up their entire family by saving for their futures and investing in educational opportunities — bolstering job opportunities and long-term career growth.

Surveys of Habitat homeowners and their families show better financial health, parents who are more confident about meeting their family’s needs, and even improved grades for their children. I’ve witnessed so many times tangible evidence that safe, affordable housing creates long lasting and life-changing impact on our families and our community.

Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity believes that every parent, every person, should have a home in which they can thrive. The families that partner with Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity to build their future homes come from a variety of backgrounds, but all have one thing in common: the desire for a better life for their family. Families find themselves in need of our program for a variety of reasons; unpredictable rent increases, overcrowded living conditions, damaged or dilapidated structures, unsafe neighborhoods, or lack of access to land and affordable financing.

When families partner with Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity, they start down a new path — one with far fewer barriers to a better, healthier and more financially stable life. We’ve found over the years of working with families that housing really is the center of success. It’s a place where families can build a better life together, a place to study, to share meals together, a safe place to lay their head at night and taking that for granted isn’t something they do.

I can’t help but think how things would change if our community took on affordable housing as a primary focus. Would that trickle down to our education system? Would that improve our economic stability? Would it decrease the burden of health care costs to our medical system? Would it mean an increase in civic engagement? I think the answer to each of those questions is yes.

What if everyone had a safe, affordable place to live? Just close your eyes and imagine the feeling of knowing that you live in a community that figured it out and started solving the unsolvable problems by believing that housing mattered.

Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity lives out that vision every day, and we’d be honored for you to join us in the idea that everyone deserves a safe place to call home.

Keri Asevedo is executive director of Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity

via Rockford Register Star

January 24, 2021 at 08:55AM

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