On Friday June 25th, Leadership Southwest Florida visited Habitat for Humanity of Lee and Hendry Counties for a Habitat 101 presentation and a hands-on building experience. Leadership Southwest Florida, is a community immersion program, hosted by SWFL Inc., that is dedicated to developing business professionals with a greater understanding of the community and creating a network of individuals ready to serve on boards and in other volunteer leadership roles in the region.
Each month, the group explores local organizations and discusses the issues facing Lee, Collier and Charlotte Counties. The primary objective of the program is to educate business professionals about the economic, demographic, and societal resources and challenges in the region.
During Leadership Southwest Florida’s time with us, they participated in Habitat 101 and a hands-on construction experience in the warehouse. In addition to learning about our organization’s history and mission, participants of the program learned about the critical need for affordable housing in Lee County, and how Habitat for Humanity of Lee and Hendry Counties strives to meet that need.
“More than 52,000 Lee County households pay upwards of 50% of their income on housing,” says Habitat Lee and Hendry Donor Development Officer, Bernie Quinn during the presentation. “Recently we closed on our 1700th home, which was a major milestone for our organization, but we still have a lot of work ahead of us.”
Leadership Southwest Florida’s morning with Habitat also included an opportunity to build walls for future affordable homes. Working alongside staff members, participants were able to see what goes into building affordable homes and how hard our partnering families have to work in order to achieve their dream of homeownership.
Through our affordable housing program, every future homeowner must complete 300 hours of sweat equity – building homes, working in the ReStores, or helping with administrative tasks in the office. Prior to closing, they must also contribute $2,000 towards closing costs and complete more than 20 hours of financial literacy and homeownership education courses. Once the program is complete, partnering families purchase their homes from with an affordable mortgage set at no more than 30% of their monthly income.
At the end of the day, Leadership SWFL participant Jennifer Denike said, “I was inspired by the mission and dedication of Habitat’s employees and volunteers.”