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Examining Habitat for Humanity as a model for affordable housing

Habitat for Humanity graphic

The Charlotte Journalism Collaborative (CJC) launched in 2019 with a focus on solutions to the affordable housing crisis. From rent control to housing fundraisers, communities are trying to come up with solutions -- wanting to make sure everyone can afford to have a roof over their heads.

The model for “partnership housing” was developed in 1976 on a community farm in rural Georgia by Millard and Linda Fuller. The concept became Habitat for Humanity and today is building and improving affordable homes for families in all 50 states and in more than 70 countries.

Under the Habitat model, people in need of housing work side by side with volunteers to build their homes. Nonprofit loans help make it affordable for new homeowners, and money raised by the organization goes into a fund to build more homes.

More than 2,200 homes have been built or rehabbed in the Charlotte region in the last 40 years, according to the local affiliate, Habitat for Humanity of the Charlotte Region.

In July, the news organizations that make up CJC decided to explore the Habitat model to better understand how it works, its benefits and its limitations. This comes on the heels of local reporting on the 2023 Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project, which built 27 new homes at the Meadows at Plato Place, a community in west Charlotte. It also coincides with the 40-year anniversary of the local Habitat affiliate.

Even in a changing world where some question whether homeownership remains an essential part of the American dream, owning a home remains an important tool for creating generational wealth and building economic mobility.

The stories in this series show Habitat’s impact on families and neighborhoods in Charlotte.

In this CJC series, we share stories of homeownership, examine critical home repair programs, explain how 3D printing could bring innovation to Charlotte, and explore how partnerships support the housing needs of the LGBTQ+ community. We look beyond Charlotte to explore rural affiliates and areas without a local Habitat, and talk with Latino homeowners about their experience finding affordability in surrounding counties.

The following stories represent the work of six reporters and combine to create a comprehensive exploration of one of the oldest models for affordable housing in Charlotte. It is part of our “I Can’t Afford to Live Here,” project – a multi-year collaborative reporting project focused on solutions to the affordable housing crisis. Read the full series on charlottejournalism.org, or on any of our partners’ websites.

The Charlotte Journalism Collaborative is supported by local and national grants and sponsorships, including NC Local News Lab Fund, Solutions Journalism Network, Knight Foundation, Wells Fargo, Foundation for the Carolinas, DreamKey Partners and NC Local News Workshop.

Members of the collaborative include Carolina Public Press, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, James L. Knight School of Communication at Queens University of Charlotte, La Noticia, QCity Metro, Qnotes, The Charlotte Observer, WCNC-Charlotte, and WFAE 90.7 FM.