Compared to renters of the same age, income, race, etc., homeowners in the US are:
• 12 times wealthier 
• 15% more likely to vote 
• 16% more likely to belong to school or community organizations 
• 10% more likely to attend Church 
• 12% more likely to maintain a garden 
• 28% more likely to repair or improve their homes 
Children of homeowners are:
• 25% more likely to graduate from high school 
• 116% more likely to graduate college 
• Have 3% fewer behavioral problems 
• 59% more likely to own their own home within 10 years
of leaving their parents household 
The number of low-income families that lack safe and affordable housing is related to the number of children that suffer from asthma, viral infections, anemia, stunted growth and other health problems. About 21,000 children have stunted growth attributable to the lack of stable housing; 10,000 children between the ages of 4 and 9 are hospitalized for asthma attacks each year because of cockroach infestation at home; and more than 180 children die each year in house fires attributable to faulty electrical heating and electrical equipment.
(Sandel, Megan, et al, There is No Place Like Home: How America’s Housing Crisis Threatens Our Children, San Francisco, Calif., March 1999)
Habitat Affiliate Information
What are Habitat affiliates?
Habitat for Humanity's work is accomplished at the community level by affiliates — independent, locally run, nonprofit organizations. Each affiliate coordinates all aspects of Habitat home building in its local area — fund raising, building site selection, partner family selection and support, house construction, and mortgage servicing. There currently are more than 1,700 affiliates in the United States, and some 550 more international affiliates coordinate Habitat house-building projects in some 3,000 communities around the world.
All Habitat affiliates are asked to “tithe” — to give 10 percent of their contributions to fund house-building work in other nations. Tithing provides much-needed funds for international building, and it also gives affiliates the opportunity to demonstrate the spirit of Christian partnership. In 2001, U.S. affiliates tithed $9.04 million to support Habitat's work overseas. Some affiliates in developing countries also receive funding grants from Habitat for Humanity International.
What Are Habitat Houses Like in North America?
Simple. Habitat houses are modestly sized -- large enough for the homeowner family’s needs, but small enough to keep construction and maintenance costs to a minimum.
Decent. Habitat uses quality, locally available building materials. Trained staff supervise Habitat house construction and educate volunteers and partner families. House designs reflect the local climate and culture.
Affordable. The labor of volunteers and partner families, efficient building methods, modest house sizes and a no-profit, no-interest loan make it affordable for low-income people around the world to purchase a Habitat for Humanity house.
While all U.S. Habitat houses share similarities, the differences in climate and construction techniques ensure ample individuality. Plus, homeowners are given opportunities to customize their homes when possible. Average house cost around $60,000 (U.S. dollars)
Sustainable construction practices:
Creative construction techniques help Habitat maintain natural resources while providing quality houses. In Taos, New Mexico, Habitat houses are built with adobe, a mixture of clay and sand that is wetted, molded and dried to make bricks. Adobe is a traditional building material in the Southwest. Electric coils in the flooring provide radiant heating in the winter, and the high insulation value and thermal mass of the bricks helps keep the houses cool in the hot desert summers.
High insulation value is an advantage of another construction technique called straw-bale construction. In this type of house design, straw bales are place in exterior non-load-bearing walls. Radiant floor heating can be used in this type of construction as well as in adobe houses.
Environmental responsibility is a concern for Habitat in the U.S. and all over the world. Metro Denver (Colo.) HFH dedicated its first “green home” in 1997. This house is designed to be energy efficient and environmentally responsible with features such as passive solar heating from south-facing windows, enhanced insulation values and a programmable thermostat. HFH of El Paso (Texas) designs houses with features such as white shingles (to reduce heat absorption) and water-saving plumbing fixtures.
Within the United States, climate conditions vary widely. Winter in Duluth, Minnesota, means January highs of 25 degrees Fahrenheit (-4 Celsius) and, in some areas, continuous snow coverage from mid-December to mid-March. To cope with the cold, Habitat houses in Duluth have walls filled with 6 inches of insulation, 16-18 inches of cellulose (recycled paper fibers) in the attic and several feet of insulation surrounding the foundation. Also, water pipes must be laid 6 to 7 feet deep to get below the frost line.
Throughout the United States, Habitat affiliates are encouraged to build with special attention to wheelchair accessibility for both homeowners and visitors. Greater Birmingham (Ala.) HFH built an “Ability House,” with no-step entrances and interior doorways and bathrooms that are larger than standard. Costs of these special features are minimized when accessibility features are taken into account from the design stage. Currently, Greater Birmingham HFH and other affiliates build all Habitat houses to be accessible.
For some affiliates, especially those in the Northeast and urban areas where land is expensive, building and renovating attached units makes the best use of financial resources. There are environmental benefits also: shared walls contribute to energy conservation by minimizing heat loss or gain. They also eliminate some of the cost of exterior cladding.