Several years ago Habitat for Humanity, a service based organization, purchased a 20 acre parcel in the city limits of Deer Park in order to build their style of affordable housing. When they first announced their intentions, there were many naysayers who badmouthed the idea, creating some initial animosity towards this humanitarian project. That negativity was largely based on fear that this new subdivision of duplexes would soon become a blight, in terms of its low income occupants and with the perception that the neighborhood would soon look like the south side of Chicago. At that time I wrote an article advocating for this idea and supporting the folks who would soon be new residents to our town. After all, they would be investing many hours of their own labor as a requirement for funding.
After driving through this new neighborhood recently, I felt vindicated in that assertion and was very happy to see how history has played out. After starting with the first scratch in the ground, the first phase of this subdivision is now complete with 36 occupied units, comprised of 18 duplexes, each having a common wall between them. The homes and yards are clean and well kept, contrary to the fears of naysayers. Clearly this concept works and has become a blessing to this community!
The Mission Statement of Habitat for Humanity unabashedly reflects their Christian values; “Seeking to put God’s love into action, Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities and hope.” They do not proselytize or work with entities who insist on proselytizing as part of their work with Habitat. This means that they also will not offer housing assistance on the expressed or implied condition that people adhere to or convert to a particular faith or listen to messaging designed to induce one to a particular set of religious beliefs.
Even though the winter snow stills lingers on the ground, workers have pushed that aside as they begin installation of the infrastructure for the second phase of this continuing project. The proof is in the pudding, as they say, which is obvious to any casual observer! It seems obvious to me that when folks have their own blood, sweat and tears into building a home with their own hands, they garner that pride of ownership that isn’t so apparent in housing provided without that investment. This is a win for the residents and for our community as a whole!