Habitat For Humanity Can’t Build Homes In The Bay Area Cheaply Enough For Lower-Income Buyers

ChinnapongShutterstock

The current housing situation in the Bay Area of California is proving to be a task that even Habitat for Humanity says it is failing to mend, reports the Mercury News.

Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI) is an international, non-governmental, nonprofit organization that was founded in 1976. The organization is devoted to building “simple, decent, and affordable” housing, and is a self-described “Christian housing ministry.” The organization has addressed issues of low-income housing all over the world.

Now, Habitat for Humanity says that they “can’t raise money fast enough to cover the gap between what very low income residents can pay and the actual cost of providing homes” in the Bay Area of California. Even though the work is done with a slew of volunteers, the organization is still coming up short — and this is allegedly due to the housing crisis in the area.

According to Janice Jenson — the President and CEO of Habitat for Humanity East Bay and Silicon Valley — the cost of everything from the raw materials needed, such as wood and drywall, to real estate has soared over the past half-decade. Jenson says that material costs continue to climb, fighting against the organization’s efforts to help low-income families.

“If you look broadly at affordable housing, it’s never been more expensive than it is right now to build.”

Currently, in Fremont, Habitat for Humanity is seeing a bad situation play out. They are selling 19 of 30 planned condos to families whose income is 40 to 115 percent higher than that of the buyers originally targeted.

Why is this happening? Thanks to rising construction costs and a big drop in public funding, the organization is having to sell their “inexpensive” homes — homes that were meant for low-income buyers — for way higher prices than most, if not all, of those low-income families can actually afford.

Habitat for Humanity is currently focusing on the Central Commons project, a project in which half of the condos were supposed to be sold to very low-income families, and another half to low-income families. However, thanks to the difficult conditions that the organization is wrestling with, these condos have now been increased in price twice — just to cover the additional $3.54 million that the project exceeded budget by.

This scenario has effectively excluded very low-income families from a shot at purchasing the homes. Those very low-income families earn up to half of the median income for the area, which is about $58,100 for a family of four.