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Habitat for Humanity stages 4-day event on Michigan Avenue

Tue, Jun 17, 2014

Habitat for Humanity held its first “Raise Your Hand Chicagoland” event in an effort to donate 13 homes to Chicago families in need. One complete home was constructed, along with a dozen frames to be finished later in the year.
The four-day event took place from May 29 to June 1 on North Michigan Avenue and was co-chaired by John Edwardson, A. Steven Crown and Ted Dosch. As over 400 volunteers and families filled Pioneer Court to complete the initial construction of the homes, Habitat for Humanity welcomed all Chicagoans to “raise [your] hand” in an effort to “transform families and communities.”

The initiative is part of Habitat for Humanity’s effort to help at least 500 families per year by 2018. Within the past 12 months, it has served over 200.
The first home was donated to Sarah Johnson, a mother of three. Remaining homes have been relocated to new construction sites in Chicago’s West Pullman neighborhood, to Waukegan and Glen Ellyn, to be finished later this summer.

“With the help of over 400 dedicated volunteers and deserving partner families, we’ll be contracting the exterior of one home and wall frames for 12 along one of Chicago’s busiest corridors,” Chicagoland CEO Matt Johnson said in prepared material. “Habitat for Humanity in Chicagoland offers families a hand up, fueled by our belief in dignity, self-sufficiency, collaboration and hope. We do this by making housing affordable to hardworking people without access to conventional financing.”

Matt Johnson

Matt Johnson

The event’s largest sponsors are Lowe’s and BMO Harris Bank. According to Lowe’s director of community relations, this sponsorship is representative of its faith in Habitat’s mission. Lowes had employee volunteers on the site and BMO Harris had 400 employees participating in Habitat builds in Chicago, DuPage County, Milwaukee, Kansas City and St. Louis.

“Not only do we get to build homes in the middle of Michigan Avenue, but we get to be a part of something so much bigger – raising the support Habitat needs to continue its mission all across Chicago,” Lowe’s director of community relations, Joan Higginbotham said. “Helping local families realize the dream of homeownership is an empowering and inspiring experience. Lowe’s is excited about the opportunity to encourage others across the region to join us and help Habitat meet some critical housing needs in Chicago.”
Johnson said there is a crucial need for affordable housing in Chicago and a rising homeless population.

“With homelessness here on the rise, as well – by 10 percent last year alone, estimates the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless—and an ongoing weak economy responsible for job loss and a record number of home foreclosures, the need for more affordable housing for Chicago families may be greater than ever. In fact, today, almost 400,000 Chicago families are in need of decent, affordable housing,” Johnson wrote in a blog about the event.

“Raise Your Hand Chicagoland” is intended to address some of these issues. Johnson said the stability from home ownership will help more than these 13 families down the line.

“The benefits of home ownership go far beyond the pride people take in their homes. Home ownership directly impacts a host of factors that together can give people the opportunity they need not only to better their lives, but the lives of their children and even their children’s children,” Johnson wrote in his opinion piece. Three out of 4 families said their overall health improved after moving into their home; their children’s test scores improved and they began to build wealth through increased equity.

Mariah Woelfel
StreetWise Editorial Intern

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