Habitat Works to Put Foreclosed Homes with Needy Families

Habitat for Humanity, known for building homes for those in need, is "aggressively" working on providing affordable shelter by buying foreclosed homes and selling them at low cost to poor families.

For about a year and a half now, the ecumenical Christian ministry has worked in local markets across the United States buying foreclosed homes in cities such as Miami, Boston, New York, Charlotte and Atlanta. HFH is also considering buying homes across the state of Michigan where there is a "huge opportunity," said Mark Crozet, senior vice president of resource development for Habitat for Humanity International.

Crozet noted that it is oftentimes cheaper to provide a family with a foreclosed home than to build a new house.

"In many new markets, we don't need to build new homes when there are existing housing there that may just be sitting empty or be sitting in foreclosure that we can help get back on the market and start re-populating communities," said Crozet to The Christian Post on Tuesday.

The HFH official highlighted that the "real win" in the situation of buying foreclosed homes is working with banks that try to give it to the ministry at a discounted rate or at a rate that is not available on the open market. In particular, he said Habitat is having a "significant amount of success" working with Citibank, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America, which had existing partnerships with the ministry before these deals.

In addition to special rates, these banks also help Habitat to get the properties within blocks of each other so that whole neighborhoods can be revitalized.

Helping the effort is Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, a non-profit organization helping its members achieve financial security while giving back to their communities. Thrivent has committed $10.4 million for the year 2011 to build Habitat homes. Crozet said Thrivent and other companies help provide the capital necessary to buy foreclosed homes.

Over the course of six years - the past five years and 2011- Thrivent Financial will surpass $150 million in contributions to Habitat towards building homes for poor families.

Since its founding in 1976, Habitat for Humanity International has built, rehabilitated, repaired or improved more than 350,000 houses worldwide, providing affordable shelter for more than 1.75 million people.

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