PEOPLE HELPING PEOPLE: Gwinnett Habitat partners with Great Days of Service in honor of World Habitat Day

Brent Bohanan

Tonight, a family of five will huddle on tattered blankets, grateful that the dirt floor beneath them is dry. A mother will say a prayer that no one sneaks into her shack through its open doorway. And a father will lie awake, hoping the roof will hold out one more month and wondering how he will afford all of the other repairs his house so desperately needs.

They are just a handful of the almost 1 in 4 people around the world living in inadequate housing. Without a safe place to live, they are less likely to be healthy, less likely to be educated, and less likely to be able to take advantage of employment opportunities that could pull them out of poverty.

To help address this need, the United Nations in 1985 declared the first Monday in October as World Habitat Day. Habitat for Humanity participates in this international event because we know that adequate shelter is critical to improve opportunities, health and education. Habitat for Humanity’s tried and tested partnership approach helps families acquire decent homes they can afford, as a hand up, not a handout. Since 1976, Habitat has helped more than 9.8 million people improve their living situations in nearly 1,300 communities across the U.S. and in over 70 countries worldwide.

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Gwinnett Habitat for Humanity has been working for more than 29 years here in Gwinnett County to build strength, stability and self-reliance through affordable homeownership for low-income families. We have provided 134 hard working families with a new or rehabbed home and have served 329 children and their families.

In Gwinnett County, the need for decent and affordable housing has risen dramatically in the two decades since Gwinnett Habitat began in 1988. There is an estimated housing deficiency of 40,000 units in the County for people earning less than $40,000 per year. Gwinnett Habitat’s goal is to build adequate and affordable housing for low income families in need. We are committed to being a key solution for as long as it takes, so children and families no longer have to live in unsafe or sub-standard conditions. Creating safe and decent places to live can have incredibly positive effects on a family.

In celebration of World Habitat Day in October, Gwinnett Habitat partnered with Gwinnett Great Days of Service Oct. 20-21 to address specific housing needs in the county with its “A Brush with Kindness” home repair program. A group of volunteers completed a critical service project for an elderly homeowner and her sister so they can continue to live in a safe, decent home for years to come.

The homeowner is a Vietnam veteran and her sister is disabled due to health issues. They were unable to maintain their home due to their condition and their fixed-income. Their home received a much-needed facelift as volunteers painted the entire exterior of her home and made other needed minor repairs allowing these sisters to stay in their home and helping to raise their spirits.

This is a clear demonstration of how Gwinnett Habitat is putting God’s love into action every day by working to eliminate poverty housing and improving the lives of low income families and children in Gwinnett County. To learn more, donate or volunteer, visit www.habitatgwinnett.org.

To learn more about Gwinnett Great Days of service visit www.gwinnettgreatdaysofservice.org.

Brent Bohanan is executive director of Gwinnett Habitat for Humanity.

People Helping People is a publication of the Gwinnett Coalition for Health & Human Services. For more information contact Ellen Gerstein at ellen@gwinnettcoalition.org or at 770-995-3339.

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