For the past 3 months I have been praying that everyone stay safe and well.
I’m not so sure anyone is feeling safe or well, right now though-
Here in our county and throughout our country –We have been rocked by a global pandemic and are outraged by tragic events. Events that point squarely at racism that is baked into so many of our systems of daily life, and the pressing need for national political consensus.
Consensus that leads to a just and equitable system.
The protests we see now are about centuries of individual and systemic racism that infuse American life. Habitat sits squarely at the intersection of housing and race.
The idea of ‘partnership housing,’ which became Habitat for Humanity, was born on Koinonia Farms in rural South Georgia. Founded on the theory of radical inclusivity and community. At that time, inclusivity was seen by some as a threat. More than 40 years ago, Klan members burned vegetable stands and fired into homes of the black and white families living together – in authentic community – at Koinonia Farms.
Here in Wilmington, we talk about the enormous racial wealth gap, because we see it. And that gap clearly exists between families of color and white families.
Let’s not forget that in the middle of the 20th century, our country enacted federal, state, and local policies which dictated two things: access to capital and where people could buy property. Based on race.
Wealth in the US has been built on housing and homeownership. Habitat builds affordable housing. We don’t just build affordable homes using volunteer labor. Habitat underwrites mortgages for families who would not qualify for mortgages on the open market – and we provide that mortgage at zero percent interest. Habitat creates the opportunity to develop equity and wealth that can break the cycle of generational poverty.
Habitat also provides critical home repairs. We preserve homeownership and empower families to protect their largest asset – so that they can pass it down to the next generation.
Habitat is a vision for a world in which we share ONE humanity. It’s a vision of a world we believe in and a world we fight to build every day. Yes, Habitat builds. And Habitat repairs. And here in New Castle County, we will continue to change both lives and landscapes.
Kevin L. Smith, CEO
(message updated June 5, 2020)