Good housing market creates problems for Habitat for Humanity in Buffalo

Posted at 6:53 PM, Jun 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-25 18:55:34-04

Habitat for Humanity, like many nonprofits, relies heavily on donations to operate day-to-day. Money, appliances and building materials are often donated and help make it possible for the group to build or refurbish homes in Western New York. Recently, however, some of those donations are down.

Specifically, fewer people are choosing to donate homes for Habitat to remodel and pair with a qualifying family. In Buffalo, two-thirds of homes the group finishes are refurbished. The remaining third are "new build" homes.

"Last year was really the first year that we saw a significant dip," Teresa Bianchi, executive director of Habitat for Humanity Buffalo, said. "Six of the eight houses that we did [last year] were new builds. And we had to go to new construction because the donation of rehabs and our ability to purchase rehabs affordably was so inconsistent."

Bianchi points to a strong housing market which has more people holding on to homes that they might have donated in the past. Another issue is the properties Habitat is used to buying are becoming more expensive.

"We have so many families in our program right now that are waiting for us to build houses for them," she said. "If we have to purchase a property at $30,000, that doesn't leave us much money left to actually do the rehab work that needs to go into it."

Habitat is currently working with the city of Buffalo and other partners to get homes donated or homes that are more affordable. The organization usually finishes 12 to 14 homes each year. After seeing a sharp decline last year with just eight homes, Habitat expects to complete 14 homes this year and 16 next year.

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