Habitat for Humanity gets a helping hand
By Erica Eckart
The UAW Community Service Committee has been working with the Habitat for Humanity organization for many years. The program offers low-income housing to families who are in need. The partnership with the UAW allows volunteers from Local 249 as well as community members to go and help build these homes from scratch.
This program not only builds homes for the families, it also requires them to take classes to learn how to manage their finances and manage their mortgage, as well as 350 hours of hands-on sweat equity participation in building their house unless they are physically unable to do so. They also receive a 0% interest rate on their home loans which allows their mortgage payment to be as low as four to five hundred a month based on income.
The price of affordable housing is more than just money saved for recipient Tony Waterhouse, it provides him with independence as well. For years as the cost of rent has exploded, Tony has been forced to make do in apartments ill-equipped to accommodate his motorized wheelchair- a device he must use to move around his home.
“Everyday tasks like showering and cooking are difficult when your home is not equipped for people with disabilities” says Tony. “Getting in and out of a bathtub is a painful and tiring process. Some days I do not want to deal with it, so I go to the gym and shower there”.
Wanting to live a more independent life, Tony reached out to a program called The Whole Person, a local nonprofit that connects people with disabilities to the resources and services they need to meet the unique challenges they face.
He says The Whole Person became his biggest advocate, and with their help, he was accepted into Habitat KC’s homeownership program. Now, with an affordable mortgage, Tony is building a home that is specifically designed to accommodate his needs and will give him the independence he has been searching for.
“I look forward to this every year” says Kim Rowland, Chair of Local 249’s Community Service Committee. “This program not only builds homes, we build communities, it’s an awesome program that I really love being a part of. Not only do we get to be a part of something rewarding, but we’re also learning new skill sets”.
“Habitat generally buys up four or five properties on the same block so those that go through the program have neighbors who have also gone through the program. It gives them a sense of community already knowing their neighbors,” says Shavon Monique, Marketing Coordinator for Habitat For Humanity. “We truly appreciate the UAW women and all who volunteer to come out and help our partner families get along with the process”.
“I think this program is awesome!” said Stephanie Shines, member of the Community Service Committee. “It’s a great opportunity for low-income families who are serious about managing their finances and achieving their goal of owning a home and it’s right up my alley! I’m helping people and that’s what I love to do.’’
“I think this is wonderful!” says Robin Taylor, Chair of the Women’s Committee.
“We couldn’t have had a better home, not to discount the needs of any other program recipient but to be able to help a disabled person who is totally mobile in his wheelchair, to be comfortable in his life is truly something. Me, being a parent of a disabled child, this is a home run for me. I’m super excited to build this house for Tony, and I’m happy that the women of Local 249 and volunteers from all over the city get to come together and have such a big impact on improving someone’s life. I also get the opportunity to gain some mechanical attributes and learn some DIY skills for myself and my home. I love this program!’’
The women of the Community Service Committee and volunteers, brave the elements once a year to positively impact someone else’s life and build equity in our communities
For more information on how you can get involved contact Kim Rowland, Chair of the Community Service Committee and visit HabitatKC.org for more information.
Thank you to our Local 249 Community Service Committee and all the volunteers for your part in improving lives and building communities.