Syracuse Habitat for Humanity

According to AP News on, “the number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes rose in January to the highest level in nearly two years.”  Guest blogger Kristin Earle describes how Syracuse Habitat for Humanity is helping some from our own community realize their dream of home ownership as well.

Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit agency whose mission is to eliminate substandard housing in the world.  Habitat for Humanity International has built more than 300,000 houses in more than 90 countries, with more than 50,000 of those having been constructed in the United States.

Syracuse Habitat for Humanity was incorporated in 1984, and our first house was completed in 1986.  Over the past 26 years, we have built or renovated almost 65 non-profit houses that have been sold to selected families through interest-free mortgages.  Additionally, we have contributed approximately $25.5 million in cumulative direct economic impact in the Central New York region.  Our goal is to develop decent communities by working with people in need to build and renovate houses.  

Most recently, the focus has been on eliminating substandard housing in the Near Westside, and to restore the quality of life.  Our homeowners are part of rebuilding a community that has struggled for years.  Many of them even choose to continue an active role within the organization by participating in the Syracuse Habitat for Humanity Board of Directors of other committees.

Through volunteer labor and donations of money and materials, Syracuse Habitat for Humanity homes are sold to partner families at no profit and are financed with no interest loans for 30 years. To ensure commitment, Syracuse Habitat for Humanity requires homeowners to invest 300 volunteer “sweat equity hours” in labor, as well as provide a $500.00 down payment. Our houses are sold at 0% interest; therefore the first mortgage payment begins to build equity and credit for families who would not otherwise qualify for a mortgage due to income level.

Some of the projects we are currently working on include:

Veterans Build
At Syracuse Habitat for Humanity we were the first to do a Veteran’s Build in New York State. The Veterans Build will provide two specially adapted affordable homes for local veterans in need. The announcement was made on Veteran’s day 2010 during a traditional Habitat for Humanity “Ground Blessing” ceremony at 113 and 115 Fitch Street in Syracuse’s Near Westside where the builds are currently taking place.

Youth United
Our youth program provides age appropriate advocacy and building activities for young people between 5 and 25 years old.

Women Build
Women form a steering committee with the goal to raise enough money to build a house. During the construction phase, we try to use female construction managers, plumbers, electricians, etc. whenever possible, and we make a special effort to train the female volunteers the to develop the skills they need during the build. The purpose is to provide a supportive environment for women and girls to learn construction and home improvement skills. The Women Build does NOT exclude men. Men are allowed and encouraged to work on a Women Build home.

Interfaith Build
Members of the area faith community come together to raise the money to build a house, and then schedule their community members to build the house.

SU/ESF Student Chapter
The Syracuse University/State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry Habitat for Humanity– SU/ESF Student Chapter for short–is comprised of a large group of students that are committed to providing decent, affordable housing through house sponsorship, building projects, and alternative spring break building trips. They strive to succeed in the areas of building, fundraising, education and advocacy. Their partnership with the Syracuse area Habitat for Humanity affiliate allows them the chance to see how a well-established Habitat chapter functions. This relationship also provides their chapter with the administrative resources to coordinate the construction of a house. They strive to build one house every year, completely funded and built by students.

If you are interested in volunteering , fundraising for, or donating to Syracuse Habitat for Humanity, visit their website or contact them at 315-422-2230 or

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