A Habitat Chapter Embraces Community Land Trusts in the Big Apple

By Steve Dubb: For Complete Post, Click Here…

“People believe they know what Habitat for Humanity is,” says Karen Haycox, CEO of Habitat for Humanity New York City (Habitat NYC), which has operated for 35 years and whose work now extends into nearby Westchester County. The strength of the Habitat for Humanity brand, Haycox, notes, is a “both a blessing and a challenge.” Founded in 1984 on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, just eight years after the international organization began, to date Habitat NYC has helped provide housing to over 1,800 families. Its annual revenues last year exceeded $9.6 million.

One thing everyone “knows” is that Habitat mobilizes volunteers and future homeowners, who employ sweat equity to build modest detached single-family homes. Haycox readily acknowledges that, “When you think of Habitat for Humanity, people can’t help but think of a single-family home with happy shiny volunteers raising walls. That’s the image we all get in our minds.” But how would you do that in a market where land is at a premium like New York City?

Well, while Habitat NYC does help build or renovate some single-family homes, by and large the answer is that you don’t. As Haycox observes, “We morph the model in the context where we get our boots dirty.” The beauty of the model, Haycox says, is its flexibility. As Chris Illum, Habitat NYC’s vice president of housing services, points out, every Habitat chapter is unique.

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