Che Casul, Habitat for Humanity of Sonoma County presented an overview of the scope of services provided by Habitat For Humanity in Sonoma County.
Che Casul, Habitat for Humanity of Sonoma County presented an overview of the scope of services provided by Habitat For Humanity in Sonoma County. He outlined their activities, as well as numerous ways that Club members and other members of the community may become involved with their programs. He is a seventh generation Sonoma County resident and holds a Masters degree from Sonoma State University in public administration.
 Habitat for Humanity has been building homes in Sonoma County for over 30 years. Although widely recognized for the construction of new homes, that are affordable, their impact on the community far outstrips simply providing another lodging facility. Habitat for humanity builds opportunity, dreams, community and hope. Through their programs they create stability in families regarding housing. This security in housing provides safe environments for participants in the program and provide a great deal of continuity for the family including work, school and community involvement.
Currently there are 10,000 homes in Sonoma County that are severely overcrowded and there is a 0.03% vacancy rate for housing units in the county. It is the hope of habitat for humanity that by the year 202, 20 new homes a year will be built in Sonoma County. This is a small percentage of what anticipated needs will be at that time (144 per year).
Qualifications for a habitat for humanity home are stringent. One must be earning between 40 and 80% of the median income for the area and there is an intensive qualification process looking at employment, family size, ability to provide 500 hours of sweat equity and numerous other qualifications.
Once selected as a recipient, participants are obligated to put in up to 500 hours of sweat equity including helping neighbors build new homes, and providing other functions within the scope of Habitat for Humanity services. These hours count towards the down payment for a home. Mortgages for these homes will never exceed 30% of the family income. Once built, they can only be sold as low income housing at low income prices. Houses are generally built for less than half of the median price of a similar home in Sonoma County. Many supplies are provided at cost or below cost (donated) and virtually all of the labor is provided by volunteers.
A new area of development is helping elderly couples to “age-in-place." Typically these are families on a limited income who have owned and resided in their properties for decades but the properties have fallen into a state of disrepair. Working with the Exchange Bank, a limited reverse mortgage is obtained to help with some of the expenses of remodeling the homes to allow the families to remain in them through the end of their lives. Materials are purchased or obtained through the same sources as regular Habitat for Humanity homes, and all labor is volunteered. This program is helping numerous elderly families to remain in place as they grow older.
Community members may become involved with Habitat as construction workers. Training will be provided for those who want to work this aspect of the volunteer service. Other opportunities include working in the ReStore, a warehouse of donated items, supplies and tools that are sold to the public with the proceeds going to purchase building materials for new homes. Donated cabinets, and other usable materials can often be used in the new construction as well. Administrative office functions are also available that do not require a knowledge of construction or materials and frequently involve grant writing, maintaining databases and work schedules.
Members can find out more information about habitat for humanity by visiting